There is now better access for patients who were once shut out of mental health services. I can now counsel patients who are homebound, are in hospice care or have physical limitations or issues that prohibit travel to the clinic.
While telemental health services have been available for some time, the pandemic prompted health care professionals and patients to have a more favorable view of them.
The bad: Feeling lonely and isolated
To slow the spread of COVID-19, we've often been told to stay home. This increased social isolation and loneliness.3 Being alone and isolated put people at a higher risk for many physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, obesity and depression.6
Two groups of people have been particularly vulnerable: older adults living independently and younger adults in their 20s and 30s who work in high-tech jobs and live alone.
It's hard for older people to connect with family members when they're afraid of getting COVID-19. They also have anxiety and grief over losing others in their social circle to the virus. And they are unable or afraid to visit their doctors for regular checkups.
Younger adults, in addition to struggling with social isolation, have also experienced a decline in work productivity and accountability.