Dignity Health Medical Groups rapidly scaled their virtual care capabilities at an unprecedented rate at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many patients have since enjoyed the safety and convenience of virtual visits. Dignity Health Medical Group Behavioral Health patients have especially shown a great interest in video visits, with more than 85% of appointments being conducted virtually since the beginning of the pandemic.
COVID-19, and shelter-in-place protocols, have taken a heavy toll on people, with many experiencing increased stress and anxiety. It’s never been more important to take care of your mental health, as delaying care can lead to more complex issues down the road.
“Unfortunately, there are people who aren’t seeking help,” said Dr. Carter Haynes, executive director of behavioral health at Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group. “Stay-at-home orders and the effects of social isolation can significantly impact an individual’s mental and emotional health, which could lead to long-term issues for both individuals and their families if they do not seek professional support.”
What Is a Virtual Visit?
A virtual visit with a behavioral health professional works much like a regular visit with your doctor or therapist. However you can connect from the safety and convenience of your own private space as long as there is an internet connection. Virtual visits use live, secure, video technology to allow patients to directly see and speak with their physician through their computer or mobile device, tablet or computer. Virtual visits are never recorded and use encrypted software to ensure your meeting is private and secure. Learn more about whether virtual visits are right for you.
Benefits of Virtual Visits for Mental Health
Having someone to talk with and guide you to mental health resources provides added comfort to patients. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues, we encourage you to speak with your primary care physician. They can refer you to a behavioral health professional who can see you virtually, a service proven to be just as effective as seeing someone in-person.
Health care is more accessible than ever, and even if someone is intimidated by virtual visits, our team can help walk you through the steps to get you set up and ready for a visit with your doctor.
According to Dr. Haynes, there are some immediate steps people can take to improve their mental health, such as safely exercising outdoors, connecting with loved ones over the phone and maintaining daily routines.
How to Schedule a Behavioral Health Appointment
Video visits are available to new and existing Dignity Health Medical Group patients who are seeking primary and specialty care, including behavioral health care.
Additional protocols are also in place to help reduce anxiety and break down barriers between doctor and patient in a virtual setting. For example, a representative will call the patient and walk them through the process 30 minutes prior to their appointment. The ensuing appointment can even be converted to a phone call and is completely confidential.
Along with these practices, check-in with your primary care physician or behavioral health team if you are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety.