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May 2020 - No More Stigmas on Remote Working and Mental Health? A Sign of Hope with COVID-19

Since March of this year, Americans have been forced to face unprecedented closures with a goal of “flattening the curve” to protect their families, friends, co-workers, and communities from the deadly virus known as COVID-19. Suddenly, terms like “social distancing” and “distance learning” became common, and the stigma of remote working has lifted as laws, regulations, and the desire to protect against the spread have obligated even the least technology-savvy workers to embrace a whole new world of teleconferencing and working from home. For many people that were thrown into the challenges of a new world –working from home, businesses, colleges, schools, and daycare center closures– there were also feelings of relief that they still were able to collect a paycheck. For those that were not so fortunate, they had to navigate a burdened system of filing for unemployment or face the moral dilemma of putting their health at risk to continue to bring home a paycheck. Many school children and parents have faced feelings of loss for lost field trips, proms, graduations, award banquets, concerts, activities, celebrations, vacations, weddings, birthday parties, time with friends, and the list could go on and on. For others, they have battled amplified anxiety, facing overwhelming thoughts of getting sick and possibly dying, losing sleep over their concern for loved ones that were small business owners with an uncertain future, and depression compounded by the loss of face-to-face support networks.

At MWI Health, each of our contract partners have had to make adjustments to the methods used to get mental health care to patients while protecting the health and safety of them, the providers, and the staff. Some facilities adapted more quickly than others, just as some patients were more flexible to the changes than others, but our team of providers rallied around them with the familiarity that we already had with telehealth. MWI Health was often turned to by our contract partners as the “experts in telepsychiatry” in our area. Schedules changed, with patient care needs ebbing and flowing from day to day. The uncertainties that patients were facing became evident, with appointment cancellations due to loss of insurance coverage and, on the other side of the coin, new patient evaluations because of stressors that inflamed mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

People across the world have been pushed to change how they live and work out of necessity for their health and safety, and what our future holds is still uncertain and scary, but it is obvious that mental health has become more important than ever. Seeing a need for immediate access to in-home telepsychiatry care, we are now offering online scheduling for initial psychiatry evaluations for only $250 for up to 60 minutes, and have also made it easier for our existing patients to schedule online for medication management sessions or our Suboxone treatment clinic for opioid addiction.

While social distancing has a tendency to bring out feelings of loneliness and isolation, we are encouraged that the stigma on mental health is waning right along with the stigma of working from home, and that gives us hope for individuals that previously have felt that they shouldn’t reach out for help. As everyone battles their mental and physical health during this challenging time of their lives with the isolation of social distancing, there is a sense of solidarity across the world that we are all in this together. If you are battling anxiety or depression, you are not alone. There is hope, and we are here. Schedule a session with an MWI Health provider today.