The use of teletherapy for mental health care is especially important right now because of COVID-19 and many people continuing to practice social distancing. But social distancing or staying at home more doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the health care you need. This includes mental health care. Mental health services are accessible online and through mobile apps. This is critical, as the pandemic has disrupted our lives, including our mental health. In South Florida alone, 78% of residents say COVID-19 has impacted their mental health. Surveys also show increases in drug and alcohol use related to the pandemic. The Importance of Virtual Connections As we head into the traditional flu season, it’s possible there could be new or re-instituted limitations on interactions because of rising COVID-19 cases. You might not live someplace where there will be stay-at-home orders this winter, but due to caution, you might also choose to stay home whenever possible. While reducing your social interactions can lower the spread of COVID-19, it can also lead to mental health issues. We all need to maintain a strong connection to our virtual networks, including friends and family, and your medical network of health care providers. Virtual connections can reduce isolation and loneliness and help you get the healthcare you need as well. While virtual connections alone aren’t ideal, they are still important right now. What is Teletherapy? Many health care providers are offering telehealth services right now, particularly for the management of routine care and chronic disease management. The idea is similar with teletherapy. Teletherapy allows you to receive counseling for mental health concerns either by phone or online. Research indicates it’s just as effective as in-person counseling. Even outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, many therapists had started implementing teletherapy into their service offerings. Teletherapy tends to work especially well with video chat. It can be used for conditions including anxiety, depression, trauma and chronic stress. Teletherapy may also be useful for relationship counseling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is especially well-suited to teletherapy. Benefits of teletherapy for patients include: Access to care High satisfaction rate Increased privacy Teletherapy may be less expensive both in terms of direct treatment and indirect costs that come with in-person expenses, such as paying for childcare. Teletherapy for Mental Health in South Florida South Florida was hit very hard by COVID-19, especially in the summer. By July, South Florida had among the highest infection rates in the country. Those infection rates have declined but because of the public health and economic effects, many people in the area are still reeling from the effects. As of November, Florida has seen 821,123 coronavirus cases. Of those, there have been nearly 17,000 deaths. Many of those have been concentrated in South Florida. If you connect with local telehealth services in South Florida, you can work with a provider who understands the local stressors people are feeling. There is also the opportunity to see your provider in person when you feel comfortable. Is Teletherapy Covered by Insurance? There are a few individual factors that play a role in whether your insurance will cover online therapy. The first is the policies in your state and the second is your insurance company. If your state has a telehealth parity law, your insurance plan covers mental health and your plan covers telehealth, then your teletherapy would most likely be covered at least partially by your insurance. Parity means whether care is covered for telehealth the way it would be for an in-person visit of the same kind. Many insurance companies expanded their telehealth provisions this year because of COVID-19. In 2019, Florida passed HB23. It’s a law that offers guidelines on the use of telehealth. It establishes things like telehealth practice standards. The bill didn’t require insurance plans to cover telehealth, but it did make it more likely. The best way to find out if your insurance will cover telehealth and specifically teletherapy is to either contact your insurance company directly or have your mental health care provider verify coverage. Finding Mental Telehealth in South Florida The importance of remaining connected to your healthcare network right now can’t be overstated. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Teletherapy can facilitate the management of your mental health care, even as we social distance and stay home. The Recovery Village at Baptist Health now offers teletherapy for mental health conditions and addiction. You can register for telecounseling, teletherapy and other online services and be matched with a licensed professional. We are in-network with most major insurance companies, meaning insurance will often help cover the cost of treatment. Contact us today to learn more about our mental health teletherapy programs. We can also help you verify your insurance benefits. SourcesLangarizadeh, Mostafa, et. al. “Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review.” Journal of Academy of Medical Sciences of Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 2017. Accessed November 5, 2020. Florida Health. “What you need to know now about COVID-19 in Florida.” November 4, 2020. Accessed November 5, 2020. The Florida Senate. “CS/CS/HB 23: Telehealth.” July 1, 2019. Accessed November 5, 2020. Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.