How Patient Sentiment is Growing for Virtual Mental Healthcare
Healthcare consumers feel a growing level of comfort with virtual mental healthcare as an alternative solution to in-person appointments. In 2021, usage of virtual mental health services skyrocketed to 17% from 11% in 2020. As the mental health crisis continues, virtual mental healthcare has become a lifeline to consumers of all ages.
The Growing Consensus Across Generations
Consumers young and old use telehealth to access behavioral health services. According to data from the Evernorth Research Institute, 45% of Baby Boomers convey the same levels of comfort toward virtual mental services as in-person services. Additionally, 7% of Baby Boomers say they feel higher levels of comfort with virtual therapy services than in-person therapy.
On the other hand, 55% of Generation X consumers are equally comfortable with in-person services and telehealth mental services as viable healthcare options. Fifteen percent say they would pursue both in-person and virtual therapy services. The tech-savvy Millennials (28%) and Generation Z (23%) are noted as the most comfortable with using virtual mental healthcare alone.
Top Reasons for Comfort with Virtual Mental Healthcare
Healthcare consumers say they prefer virtual mental health services because telehealth grants them the ability to:
- Remain in their home for the appointment (24%)
- Attend the appointment anywhere outside the standard medical setting (18%)
- Achieve an honest consumer-provider dialogue, contrary to in-person services (15%)
The top channel for virtual mental healthcare is via video (55%) in comparison to phone calls, mobile apps and text messages.
Efforts to Expand Virtual Mental Healthcare
As telepsychiatry gains momentum among consumers, healthcare leaders are also keeping this care channel top of mind. Over the next few years, healthcare leaders plan to invest in behavioral health and expand access to telebehavioral health platforms. The White House announced plans to work with Congress to primarily ensure virtual mental health coverage across health plans in order to address the mental health crisis. Several bills are currently moving through Congress this year to make telehealth a permanent avenue for mental health care delivery.