The Next Wave – A Mental Health Pandemic
It took a pandemic to get insurance companies to embrace telemedicine, will it also get them to embrace mental health?
Awareness of Mental health support has been growing for years as health centers have begun to incorporate mental health into primary care, emergency medicine, and even inpatient floors. Diseases can be complex in that poor mental health can bring on poor physical health just as physical challenges can bring upon mental health issues. I see this COVID-19 pandemic affecting so many people. The experience for both physicians and patients, is made even more complex by having inconsistent payor models and varying policies. This provides not only physical challenges but financial and operational challenges for health systems and patients.
This wave of post-pandemic mental health issues will impact a broad swath of the population including emotional trauma among health care providers, COVID-19 survivors, those who have lost loved ones, PTSD in front line workers who have been exposed including emergency services as well as Grocery Workers, Bankers, Public Transportation Workers, and Uber/Lyft Drivers.
Humans are social beings who need to socially and physically interact. This interaction has a positive effect on physical and mental health. Individuals maintaining social distancing face the impact of lack of socialization (both adults and children), isolation with conflict laden relationships such as physical and mental abuse, strained family relationships, anxiety, as well as the countless Americans who have lost jobs and need to receive assistance.
Solutions will have to take into consideration diverse space types for varying treatment and rehabilitation needs in a continuum of care, addressing multiple touchpoints for mental health in an integrated care model. Americans face a future where self-isolation may be a re-occurring phenomenon, as spikes in infection could send the medical establishment into crisis mode again. Telemedicine, and message-based counseling will have to integrate with video-based support group platforms in times of isolation. As clinics, schools, and workplaces re-open mental health should be an integrated experience, focusing on early identification, and providing multiple avenues for treatment. Our designs of school based health centers design have included integrated mental health for students and families; I forsee this becoming more mainstream across the country not only in schools, but in workplaces, and all aspects of healthcare delivery.
E4H is re-envisioning mental health spaces for this new integrated future, now is the time for insurance companies to embrace the next generation of mental health care.
About Kevin Neumann
AIA, ACHE, Partner