According to a new research report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, telemedicine or telehealth is becoming increasingly popular as a form of mental health care. The study analyzed patient information from the Department of Veterans Affairs and found that more than half (55 percent) of mental health appointments are now conducted remotely, primarily through videoconferencing rather than in-person visits.
The study also noted that the volume of telemedicine visits increased significantly once the coronavirus pandemic began, becoming much more common than in-person visits. For primary care and mental health care, in-person appointments dropped from 81 percent to 23 percent in the first few months of the pandemic.
However, phone-based care had returned to its pre-pandemic level by spring 2023, while video-based care had remained close to its peak during the pandemic, representing a 2,300 percent increase from its pre-pandemic level. The researchers attributed this to the ease of adapting mental health services to virtual platforms as compared to primary care and medical specialists’ care, which often require in-person evaluations such as physical examinations.
Overall, this study highlights the growing trend towards telemedicine as a form of mental health care and its potential benefits for patients who may not have access to traditional in-person appointments or who prefer remote consultations.