The pandemic situation created by COVID-19 has badly affected the mental health of people around the globe. The tragedy is that healthcare providers and physicians are more concerned about their patients’ physical health that they almost completely forget to understand their mental health is vital to consider. Here in this blog, we’ll share some of the hurdles that come on the way towards the integration of the mental and physical healthcare system and how we can address them.
- The pandemic situation has badly influenced the overall mental health of people worldwide, and the current system fails to meet the level of care the patients deserve.
- The pandemic’s effects cause this mental health crisis, including anxiety, stress, depression, and suicide.
- Providers are focusing on moving quickly towards integrating behavioral healthcare services into primary care.
- Low reimbursement discourages behavioral health care providers from participating in insurance networks.
- According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, more than 50% of U.S. divisions do not have a licensed behavioral healthcare provider.
How Has Pandemic Situation Influenced the Mental Health of the People?
The pandemic situation has badly influenced the overall mental health of people around the globe. For a long time, mental health has been a forgotten element of our healthcare system. Unfortunately, the healthcare practices and providers are not that much focused on addressing the issues people are facing due to behavioral disorders, depression, and overall mental health. It has raised the question about the comprehensive behavioral healthcare system. The current system fails to meet the level of care the patients deserve.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
COVID-19 has shed light on the necessity to go beyond physical and protect mental well-being, as they are closely connected. In May 2020, the Washington Post stated that the pandemic was driving the United States into a mental health crisis.
The effects of the pandemic itself caused these mental health issues. Several people are living with a panic of catching this infection. Many people have to take care of their sick family members. Some cannot meet their sick loved ones admitted in hospitals and have to wait helplessly. Others have seen the deaths of their family or friends without saying goodbye.
Many people have lost their jobs in COVID-19. Everyone is living in a situation of uncertainty with a disturbed routine and coping with sudden changes in the personal and professional lives. As a result, anxiety, stress, depression, suicide, and substance abuse have risen.
Barriers in the Integration of Mental & Physical Healthcare System
The failure of meeting patients’ mental health needs existed even before the pandemic. According to care access data collected by Mental Health America, nearly 43% of the more than 51 million adults supposed to have had a mental health problem in 2019 got treatment. This care gap inspired providers to move quickly towards integrating behavioral healthcare services into primary care. But there are several obstacles on the way to mental and physical healthcare integration. Some of them are listed below:
1. Low Reimbursement for Behavioral Healthcare Providers
One of the major problems is the way behavioral healthcare providers get paid. Low reimbursement discourages psychiatrists from participating in insurance networks. It will make it difficult for primary care to refer patients or consult with them on care plans. Additionally, the majority of behavioral healthcare professionals do not accept insurance due to the low reimbursement rates.
2. Lack of Coordination Between Medical and Behavioral Healthcare Providers
As most psychiatrists do not accept insurance, it leads to the lack of coordination between medical and behavioral healthcare providers. Hence, fewer professionals will be available to meet the demand for services. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, more than 50% of U.S. divisions do not have a licensed behavioral healthcare provider.
3. Social Stigma and Lack of Education
People who are experiencing mental health problems avoid getting treatment in the first place due to the stigma affiliated with mental illness. People blame someone suffering for lack of self-control, mental weakness, or behaving weirdly. The social stigma of mental disorders shows the lack of mental health education and awareness in public. Many affected people remain untreated because they think it will go away on its own and do not understand that they need it.
4. Lack of Mental Health Policies
It would be much easier to address the barriers if the countries have some effective mental health policies. It is essential to have comprehensive mental health policies to coordinate action and assure the availability of resources, especially in areas that require them most. Also, it will help to reduce the inequalities in access to mental health care.
Several studies have shown that almost one-third of countries do not possess any mental health care policies, and 40% of those that do have them haven’t renewed these policies for integrating developments in the mental health profession.
Mental Health, a Right and a Responsibility
Mental health is a human right, and it is the responsibility of every individual within his sphere of influence. Governments need to make policies and budgets for increasing access to mental health services at the highest level. Employers also play a significant role in making mental health care available to their workforce. They should also provide mental health benefits to overwhelm some workplace barriers to mental health care access.
Lastly, you and I have our roles as responsible citizens. We should understand the mental health issues and seek support and treatment if needed. We can be sensitive to everyone’s mental health and show compassion to those suffering from mental illness.