Social distancing measures enacted during the pandemic moved many mental health services online, with a new survey showing that a majority of patients want it to remain that way.
The survey was conducted by market research company Propeller Insights on behalf of DrFirst, a health care technology and consulting company. It builds upon another survey DrFirst published last October showing a significant number of individuals making use of telehealth services as the pandemic wore on.
The current survey, which was conducted online in May, polled 1,004 American consumers ages 18 and older.
Of the respondents, 68% said that the pandemic had made their mental health worse, with 17% saying that they had sought mental health assistance for the first time during COVID-19.
Additionally, 74% of respondents said that their provider made virtual mental health services available during the pandemic — and 84% said that they would like to continue receiving virtual behavioral health care post-pandemic.
Participants noted that they liked not having to travel to a therapist’s office to receive assistance, along with reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus and being more comfortable opening up about personal issues within the privacy of their homes.
“For people with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, the benefits of telehealth are more than simple conveniences and may make the difference for getting care at all,” Colin Banas, the chief medical officer for DrFirst, said in a press release regarding the survey.
Respondents, to a lesser extent, also cited factors like being able to receive counseling while wearing pajamas and during work hours, as well as not having to spend time finding childcare as reasons they wanted to continue receiving virtual mental health treatment post-pandemic.
“These may be the things that even make it possible for certain patients to get the care they need,” Banas said. “This is why it’s vital that patients continue to have access to telehealth for mental health services.”
The results of the new survey may also suggest that the level of user engagement with telehealth has increased since the initial survey DrFirst published last October.
In that survey, 25% of respondents said that they had used telehealth for mental health care, with nearly half of those polled using virtual care for a variety of services across the health care spectrum. However, significant numbers reported surfing the web, watching TV and scrolling through social media while receiving care.