The COVID-19 pandemic has brought financial uncertainty, health fears and isolation to millions of Americans. According to one survey, nearly half of Americans have felt a negative impact on their mental health due to the pandemic. Stress and social isolation can easily lead to substance misuse and addiction. People in recovery are also at a higher risk for relapse under these conditions.
As a result of shelter-in-place orders and similar safety guidelines, teletherapy — or online counseling — has seen a surge in popularity. Telehealth services in Washington state, including Seattle counseling services, continue to rapidly expand to meet the rising need for easy-to-access mental health care.
Why Is Online Counseling Popular in Washington State and Oregon?
Telehealth is popular for many reasons, but perhaps the largest benefit is the ease of access. Individuals staying at home during the pandemic can receive remote services from local health care providers, medication-assisted treatment, and therapy sessions without leaving their homes. This is especially valuable for older adults with limited mobility, individuals with high-risk health conditions and people who struggle with substance abuse.
Anyone whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic can benefit from speaking with a counselor at convenient times. Online counseling avoids added travel time to get to appointments, finding childcare, and offers greater scheduling flexibility. This makes mental health care more accessible to more people.
Washington’s health care providers have worked to adapt to the new needs of their patients. By the middle of May, up to 80% of mental health care services throughout 40 pediatric specialties at Seattle Children’s Hospital were being conducted online. Regarding adult telehealth, the University of Washington Medicine increased the number of clinics offering virtual services from 25 to 300, and nearly 2,500 more care providers now offer telehealth options. Ongoing support is vital in addiction recovery, so organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have also moved to online platforms to reduce health risks but still provide assistance.
Telemedicine Payment Parity
Teletherapy has become a viable and affordable service through the new Washington state telehealth parity law, which makes remote services cost the same as in-person visits. This means insurance will typically cover the costs of online therapy. The law includes changes to Medicaid and Medicare telehealth provisions and streamlines the process of gaining telehealth credentials for health care professionals. With these steps, it is easier for physicians and therapists to provide online counseling services, and it’s also easier and more affordable for clients to find and receive them.
Accessing Teletherapy for Yourself
Accessing online counseling services for mental health care or substance abuse treatment is easier than ever, thanks to a wide offering of telehealth apps and remote mental health providers. Online therapy platforms like Talkspace can provide insurance-eligible health care remotely, and patients can choose from a large pool of therapists and counselors.
The Recovery Village Ridgefield offers telehealth services aimed at treating substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions. Our expert therapists work with clients from all backgrounds to help them work through underlying triggers, understand addiction, learn strategies for lifelong recovery and avoid potential relapses.
If you would like to learn more about our telehealth options or are looking for addiction treatment resources, contact one of our helpful representatives today. We’re here to help you begin the path to a healthier, substance-free life.
- Henson, Stacey. “Drug and Alcohol Use Increase During COVID-19” The Recovery Village, May 11, 2020. Accessed August 31, 2020.
- Blethen, Ryan. “As Washington Reopens, Telemedicine May Be New Normal.” Government Technology, June 15, 2020. Accessed August 31, 2020.
- Washington State Hospital Association. “New telemedicine payment parity law and training requirements and temporary telemedicine changes as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” June 23, 2020. Accessed August 31, 2020.