Mental health and crisis counselors say telehealth should stay even after pandemic ends

Mental health apps help ease anxiety, depression
Posted at 12:24 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 18:55:45-04

CLEVELAND — After emergency actions relaxed governing how mental health, addiction and crisis counselors can access their patients, those counselors say clients and patients would benefit from the changes becoming permanent.

“It’s been a radical shift in terms of how we interface with our patients and how our patients interface with us,” said Recovery Resources Chief Clinical Officer Jason Joyce.

Since March 9, healthcare providers have been allowed to use telemedicine to reach clients, allowing more people to be served while limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

Recovery Resources says 98 percent of its clients are 200 percent below poverty level, so buying food in a national emergency can be an extra challenge.

“This is a regulatory change being offered by the Ohio Department of Medicaid to help reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) for patients, their families, and the health care workforce. In addition to increasing access to care, these rules also seek to reduce pressure on Ohio hospitals,” says a post on the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities website.

“That allows us to bill services that weren’t previously billable over the phone and over video,” said Joyce. “We’ve done over 4,000 Telehealth visits since this started. Prior to that, the number was zero.”

The better number might be the 10% decrease in Recovery Resources clients missing appointments. Joyce says it seems that there’s a better chance clients come to counseling when it’s over a video conference.

Recovery Resources has been collecting food donations, or monetary donations for food purchasing, so they can distribute food to clients in need.

“What we’re finding is that many of those individual are actually responding better to [video conference appointments] than they did to the in-person group,” said The LCADA Way President Thomas Stuber.

He says younger clients seem to be more engaged more quickly with the video meetings and video group sessions. Stuber says getting clients into a treatment routine quickly means they have a better chance of that treatment being successful.

“Counselors always believed they had to see the person and be face-to-face to be effective,” said Stuber. “I don’t think that myth is there anymore.”

Both organizations say their work during the outbreak shows they need to keep doing Telehealth even after the coronavirus is less of a threat.

But that depends on the state of Ohio.

The success so far is largely due to the quickly-relaxed regulations. Governor DeWine’s spokesperson tells News 5 those changes are temporary and just for the duration of the emergency. The changes would have to go through the normal, sometimes-lengthy legislative process to become permanent.

Ohio Crisis Text Line
Text keyword "4HOPE" to 741 741

OhioMHAS Help Line

Find Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Treatment []

Disaster Distress Helpline
1-800-846-8517 TTY
Text "TalkWithUs" to 66746
Spanish-speakers: Text "Hablanos" to 66746

You can find resources on social media by searching for posts with the hashtag: #BHisOpenForBusiness

If you or someone you know needs help, they can call 1-800-720-9616.

You can reach out to Recovery Resources here.

You can view Recovery Resources' Virtual Art Gallery here.

You can reach out to The LCADA Way here.

Click here for your one-stop resource guide

Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.