NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - An important improvement in mental health access is developing as a result of the COVID pandemic.
The government and insurance companies are now reimbursing for telehealth behavorial therapy.
Mental health issues have always taken a tremendous toll on society: Economic, physical and emotional. During the pandemic and a divided political climate, it's even greater.
While telehealth doctor's visits are now reimbursable by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, for the most part tele-mental health treatments have not been.
That's now changing.
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If you simply search "depression" in social media, and you'll see how rampant mental health issues are right now. While there are self-help videos on the topic, mental illness is usually not a do-it-yourself fix, especially now.
A recent study in JAMA Network Open found that symptoms of depression are now more than triple what they were pre-pandemic. Those economically disadvantaged are at greatest risk, and the biggest barrier to treatment is cost.
Enter telehealth mental therapy, as led by Brooklyn's CHE Behavioral Health Services. Their CEO explains that not only is tele-mental health virtually the same as in-person talk therapy, in some ways, it's better.
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"Walking out of your home comes with a degree of danger, fear, whatnot. And so having the ability to have help literally be one click away and still remaining in the comfort of their own home, and having the psychologists be able to see the person in their home environment while they have their, you know, the comfort of whatever security that gives them, has actually proven to be a really effective means of treatment," said Raphael Treitel.
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CHE is currently doing over 1,000 visits a day via their 700 certified mental health professionals. While the federal reimbursement is technically temporary, hundreds of insurance companies are now paying for tele-mental health treatment, so it is likely to become permanent.
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