An increase in both mental health needs and telehealth utilization occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the outcomes of a roundtable discussion recently presented at Psych Congress 2021, held from October 29 through November 1, in San Antonio, Texas.

This study included 38 participants consisting of both healthcare providers and advocates for those receiving treatment. All participants filled out survey questions 1 day prior to the discussions, which took place over 4 virtual roundtable sessions held between December 2020 and February 2021. A pair of psychiatric professionals moderated discussions that included challenges and opportunities for the specialty of psychiatry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 had a significant impact on psychiatric services. Among the participants, 41% implemented telehealth procedures and 27% transitioned to a completely virtual practice; 55% described access to care as worse, 27% as better, and 18% as unchanged. The most frequently encountered diagnoses were anxiety and depression, reported at 80% and 30%, respectively. Most study participants believed that telemedicine would continue to be a standard treatment method in psychiatry, with benefits including glimpses into participants’ family life, fewer no-shows, lower rates of social anxiety/stigma caused by in-person visits, and greater effectiveness and utilization of screening tools. Participant-reported disadvantages were the potential for missing important clinical information and less access among elderly, low-income, and rural patients due to their lack of access to technology. Mental health needs were reported to be higher during the pandemic, and participants were concerned about the ability of providers to meet rising demand.


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The study authors concluded that “[a]lthough telemedicine was seen as having advantages and disadvantages, providers believed that it will be an enduring service delivery modality after the pandemic.”

Disclosure: This clinical trial was supported by AbbVie. Please see the original reference for a complete list of authors’ disclosures.

Reference

Moreira T, Wallace K, Jain R, Maletic V. Psychiatry and mental health during COVID: unmet needs of healthcare providers and patients. Presented at: Psych Congress 2021; October 29-November 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas. Poster 80.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor