May marks Mental Health Awareness Month. With the current climate exacerbating feelings of isolation and loneliness, it's more important than ever to raise awareness about mental illnesses—and break down the stigma surrounding them. Here's what we're doing to make mental healthcare more accessible, convenient, and judgment-free, both in the age of COVID-19 and beyond.
Remember back in February, when coronavirus was little more than a distant anxiety, quickly brushed aside? The days when COVID-19 was an excuse to make memes about toilet paper shortages and "working from home?"
Then, remember when things started to get real? When slowly but surely, the seriousness of the situation set in—and the anxiety got harder to laugh off and push aside?
Now, as the weeks (nay, months) of stay-at-home orders drag on, the drumbeat of stress and uncertainty grows ever-louder. Faced with so many unanswerable questions, many find themselves ruminating, feeling hopeless, and, ultimately, depressed.
You've heard it a hundred times, but it bears repeating: it's okay to not be okay right now. If you're feeling down, know that you're not alone. Whether it's due to job loss, economic uncertainty, or general worries about health and safety, people across the country are experiencing historic levels of depression and anxiety.
According to recent polls from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Benenson Strategy Group, nearly half of Americans say the coronavirus has harmed their mental health. What's more, calls and texts to crisis helplines are surging, reporting anywhere from a 40 to 1000 percent increase in volume.
One thing is clear: The current crisis has brought to light the need for improved access to mental healthcare.
We want to make mental healthcare accessible, easy-to-use, and stigma-free.
Under normal circumstances, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experience mental illness in a given year, according to research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of those 46.6 million, only 41% will seek help due to social stigma concerns and long wait times. Even fewer will get the treatment they need.
With COVID-19 pushing more people to seek care, our mission is more critical now than ever.
One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic? The crisis has sparked concern for the wellbeing of our entire nation, helping to normalize conversations around mental health. As more people speak openly about their struggles with anxiety and depression, stigma starts to erode.
That said, there's still a long way to go. Stigma is deeply rooted in our society, and many mistakenly believe that mental health conditions are a sign of personal weakness, or that people should be able to control them without help.
ZOOM+Care's philosophy is that mental illness is no different than any other medical illness. There's no shame in seeking counsel, guidance, and support. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip—Zoom's Chief Medical Officer, as well as a board-certified psychiatrist—says, "Just like you'd go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment."
Beyond eliminating stigma, ZOOM+Care strives to make mental healthcare ultra-accessible.
We reduce long wait times and irritating loopholes by offering on-demand visits without a referral. We also give you choices for how you want to see a doctor: you can start your mental health journey in person, or virtually through VideoCare™. You can even use ChatCare™ to refill or manage your medications in between visits.
What's more, ZOOM+Care supports a whole-person approach to care.
"Getting mental healthcare shouldn't be difficult, especially right now," says Dr. Vanderlip. "We've built extensive bridges between our everyday healthcare services and our mental healthcare services. We have a 'no wrong door approach'—you can schedule directly with our mental health team, or you can start your journey through our daily care offering. It's all private, and it's all in your control."
Lastly, we believe in empowering patients with knowledge and giving them the tools they need to take control of their mental health.
"The goal of our Mental Health Services is to provide great guidance and advice so that patients can plug back into their lives. We want to give them the tools to feel better on their own," says Dr. Vanderlip.
"But whenever they feel stuck, they can reach out. We're all about empowering people to make decisions about their mental health. In many ways, we're just copilots—the patient is the one in control."
To borrow the words of Dr. Vanderlip, we could all use a copilot right now. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety and depression, we're here to help. Schedule a visit today. Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.