Monarch’s Telehealth Serves as Lifeline to Mental Health Services

For J.J. Schutz and Christina Griffin, receiving mental health services via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a critical lifeline to continued care. Both agree they have easily and seamlessly adjusted to using Monarch’s web-based option to connect with their therapist.

The safeguards implemented during COVID-19 have compelled people to find a virtual alternative to many face-to-face interactions, including behavioral health care. Monarch rolled out the telehealth service in 2012, allowing the option for people we support to receive mental health services virtually.

In a recent survey of over 1,000 behavioral health executives across the country conducted by the National Council for Behavioral Health and a web-based electronic health record platform, an estimated 60 percent of behavioral health services are delivered virtually due to the pandemic. Information collected also reflected that 70 percent of survey responders believe that a large proportion of services will continue virtually after the pandemic ends.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that recent policy changes during the pandemic have reduced telehealth access barriers while promoting the use of the service as a way to deliver health care, including behavioral health.

Schutz, who was recently diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which disables connective tissue that supports skin, muscles and ligaments, has appreciated the convenience of receiving therapy virtually.

Side effects of Schutz’s recent diagnosis include the limited ability to walk, relying on a wheelchair for mobility, while also experiencing depression and anxiety. She receives services through the Navaho Drive Behavioral Health location in Raleigh.

She shared that she was in “complete and utter despair” when she initially met with her Behavioral Health Therapist Erica Bales earlier this year, prior to the pandemic, and was searching for mental health assistance to better handle the diagnosis. Through telehealth appointments with Bales that have continued through the pandemic, she has been able to move forward and heal.

Schutz appreciates that using the telehealth service removes the need to travel and she is in control of choosing a comfortable location. “I have shared my portraits and journals that I would not have been able to carry to a face-to-face appointment,” she pointed out.

Due to her diagnosis, Schutz said leaving her home for an appointment is difficult as she needs to wear braces, compression wear and a neck brace: “I find that in person appointments are way more uncomfortable for me and by having the option of therapy through telehealth it is way more comfortable.”

Griffin, a new mom to a 4-month-old son, receives services through the Nash Behavioral Health location for bipolar disorder and views telehealth as an option that works best for her young family, including her husband and 4-year-old daughter. She has also experienced a decrease in anxiety due to her ability to choose the virtual appointment’s location.

“It has brought me a lot of peace of mind because my anxiety is caused by driving due to a car accident when I was young,” she said. “I am thankful for the telehealth option because I can keep going to therapy . . . It means my anxiety no longer has an excuse to prevent me from seeking treatment.”

Bales believes that the telehealth service has proceeded smoothly and aided in removing barriers to treatment. “It has had its challenges technologically, but overall, telehealth has been a great way to stay connected to people during this difficult time,” she said.

Krystal Hall, a behavioral health therapist at Monarch’s Nash Behavioral Health location, also finds that the telehealth service has been effective in removing treatment barriers such as access to transportation and reducing missed appointments.

Monarch uses the Doxy.me platform, which enables the provider and the person supported, with internet access, to talk via a personal device such as a laptop computer, desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. For more information about Monarch services, visit the website or contact our Customer Call Center at (866) 272-7826.