Bridging the Gap Between Telehealth and Mental Health

In recent years, telehealth has emerged as a transformative force in the healthcare landscape, providing access to connected health services from the comfort of one’s home. There are many areas of the industry that have benefited from this shift – mental health and aging in place stand out as particularly impactful.

Connected healthcare has helped bridge the gap between the need of mental health services and lack of accessible in-person care due to either geographical distance, time constraints, physical limitations, and/or stigma associated with seeking therapy. According to a study published by KFF and Epic Research, a high share of patients (55 percent) in rural areas relied on connected healthcare to receive mental health and substance use services compared to those in urban areas (35 percent). Likewise, early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth served as a major resource among vulnerable populations – children and the elderly.

This integration not only enhances the reach of mental health services but also empowers patients to seek help in a comfortable and private setting, ultimately improving their overall mental well-being.

Expanding Access to Pediatric Mental Healthcare

Providing mental health services to children via telehealth is significant for several reasons. Telehealth bridges the gap by delivering remote access to mental health professionals and making it easier for children and young adolescents to receive counseling regardless of location barriers. This service is particularly beneficial to those in underserved communities where these solutions are scarce.

Some of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in childhood are attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. With this, among children aged 3-17 years, some of these conditions commonly occur together. According to the CDC, approximately 3 in 4 children (74 percent) with depression also battle anxiety and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems. For adolescents aged 12-17, substance use and suicide are important concerns – about 36 percent of teenagers in 2018-2019 reported having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Unfortunately, the percentages of children aged 6-17 diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression have only continued to increase over time, especially with the rise of social media and the aftereffects of the pandemic. According to a 2020 survey of 1,000 parents, 71 percent of parents said the pandemic had “taken a toll on their child’s mental health”. Similarly, a survey of 3,300 high schoolers found roughly “a third of students felt more unhappy than usual.”

Telehealth for mental health services is not only expanding access to those in need but also enhancing the quality of care for children and adolescents. Fostering the emotional well-being and resilience of children can help them navigate their mental disorders through their developmental years with better support and understanding. Another large advantage to telehealth services for mental health is the level of comfort and privacy it offers for children, allowing them to engage in sessions from their own homes. This familiarity and flexibility can reduce nervousness, shyness, and anxiety – making it easier for the therapist to talk and engage in the treatment.

Cultivating Community for Our Seniors

Aging in place provides numerous benefits for seniors, such as allowing older adults to maintain a sense of familiarity and independence within their own homes and communities. While aging in place can offer a higher quality of one’s social life, the opposite can be true as well. Living alone and being isolated from family can lead to increased feelings of social isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Older adults tend to have a smaller network of friendships due to “changes in their life cycle stage, such as retirement, age-related losses, or declining health limitations.” According to a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), nearly one in four of adults over 65 are considered socially isolated. Conjointly, social isolation and loneliness was found to be associated with roughly a 50 percent increased risk of dementia and 29 percent increased risk of heart disease. Keeping loved ones connected with friends and family is crucial to living a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Not only do telehealth services promote independent living and better access to managing chronic conditions, but technology can serve as an invaluable asset to supporting seniors’ mental health. Check out our recent blog, How Technology Supports Aging in Place Initiatives, to learn more. One noteworthy example of a company who is bridging the gap between older adults and social isolation is Claris Healthcare. Dedicated to serving the aging population, their services and solutions offer intuitive software, monitoring devices, and implementation services designed to confront the mental health needs of seniors.

Kajeet partners with Claris Healthcare to enable connectivity for their revolutionary Claris Companion tablet-based solution. This solution aids seniors to connect with friends, family, and caregivers online in a user-friendly resource, and serves as an important factor to fostering a holistic approach to mental health and enhancing quality of life.

To learn more about how Claris Healthcare is changing virtual care for seniors, visit their website here. And check out our success story to learn more about how Kajeet Concierge delivers comprehensive solutions for their needs.


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