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How a seismic shift to telemedicine is changing mental health care for the better

There’s a growing mental health crisis brought on COVID-19. A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression—a startling increase from roughly one in 10 people last year. 

As a psychiatrist, I am not surprised by this data. Since the onset of the pandemic, my schedule has been full. I’ve been seeing 14 patients a day, most of whom are struggling with anxiety and depression. At Brightside, the telemedicine service I cofounded, we’ve seen approximately a 50% surge in new members seeking mental health support. The pandemic has led to a demand for mental health services that exceeds what existing systems can handle, triggering an acceleration in telemedicine adoption, as well as some long overdue policy changes. 

Five months in, we are beginning to see radical changes in the mental health and telemedicine landscape. So, it’s time to ask critical questions about the future: How will technology rise to the occasion to facilitate treatment for those in need? How will larger health systems adopt telemedicine and the tools that have been promoted by startup companies for years? What policy changes have been implemented to address mental health access issues? And are these changes here to stay? 

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