How Telehealth Can Offer Comprehensive Health Solutions to Younger Generations
Improving Mental Healthcare in Schools
Telehealth has significantly improved the way the U.S. healthcare system treats and cares for elderly patients, those with limited mobility, and those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, organizations across the country are starting to use telehealth when treating and caring for a wide variety of patients, including students and young adults.
Younger people tend to overall be healthy, but students and young adults can suffer from high rates of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health or behavioral disorders.
Mental health disorders among children can change or disrupt behavioral and learning patterns. These students or young people may have trouble expressing their emotions, relating to other students, or learning new information in class.
Learn how telehealth can improve mental healthcare for students and young people, so they can spend more time in the classroom and less time traveling to and from appointments.
The State of Mental Disorders Among Children in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health disorders remain common among today’s youth:
- 9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis
- 7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem
- 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety
- 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression
Many children and young adults tend to suffer from more than one mental health disorder. For example, having multiple disorders is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety (73.8%) and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems (47.2%).
While most of these students receive necessary treatment for their condition, students that suffer from these conditions tend to miss out on valuable experiences in school. They may be embarrassed to tell their parents or guardian if it means leaving school or missing class. Other students may not have a ride to and from the mental healthcare provider’s office. Low-income students may have trouble missing school if it means missing out on free or reduced-cost meals, including breakfast and lunch.
How Telehealth Can Make a Difference
Instead of having children leave school to get the care they need, telehealth is bringing mental healthcare to students, so they can spend less time away from their peers.
In Bay County, Florida, local schools recently implemented a telehealth program to help bring mental healthcare to students. The pilot showed a major increase in the number of virtual mental health care appointments among students. The program was funded in part through insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare, and grants from the program known as Big Bend Community Based Care, a network management agency for child welfare and behavioral health services in northwest Florida.
Those conducting the study have been quick to point out that having students drive to and from the local counselor’s office can take precious hours out of the school day. It can also lead to unexpected expenses for both students and providers. In many areas around the country, mental healthcare providers tend to be in short supply. This technology ensures every student can access mental health services, regardless of their zip code or how far away they live from the nearest provider.
With this new model, students can now virtually connect with mental health counselors without leaving campus. They can use live video and audio or instant messaging to communicate with counselors. Students can also use this equipment in secure, private areas on campus.
Counselors and mental healthcare providers can use these tools to quickly learn about students and their problems without taking too much time out of their day. If students are having trouble paying attention or sitting still in class, they can get the care they need in a matter of minutes. This means less time away from class, more access to care, and reduced costs for both students and providers.
As time goes on, students clearly feel more comfortable using this technology. The uptick in virtual consultations shows more students are willing to use these devices during school hours. This technology could also reduce the stigma around mental healthcare, as it becomes more popular in schools.
Visit InTouch Health to learn more about the benefits of this technology and how it’s improving the U.S. healthcare system in more ways than one.