Virtual resources help connect you with mental health providers

March 24, 2020 in Disease Management  •  By Miles Varn, MD
mental health providers

If you’re living with depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, or other mental health issues, receiving the care and support you need from experienced mental health providers is an essential part of managing your mental wellbeing. With the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and the social distancing requirements in place to slow the spread of the disease, you may not have the same access you usually do to in-person mental health care. There are, however, several ways you can virtually access mental health care and support that you may want to consider.

If you’re already working with a psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor contact your provider and ask if she or he is able and willing to provide therapy by phone or video call. You may also want to ask your insurance company if they cover virtual therapy appointments.

If you do not currently have a relationship with a mental health care provider but are seeking access to therapy you can call your primary care physician and ask for a provider recommendation. Your insurance company should also have an online directory of providers in your network, though many mental health care providers don’t join health insurance networks due to low reimbursement rates. A health advisor can be another resource to help you connect with experienced mental health specialists.

Other resources that you can use to find a provider include:

There are also state and county agencies that may be able to help you find mental health providers. Check your state or county’s website and look for the Department of Health or the Office of Mental Health. The name of the departments will be different state to state.

In addition to mental health care provider-led resources, there are also a large number of online support groups you may want to explore, including the American Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s group, 7 Cups, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Another option is the growing number of apps that address mental health. Some connect you with virtual therapists, others help you build and practice coping skills or focus on stress management techniques.

Before signing up for an online support group or mental health app, it’s important to check its security and privacy policies and find out if it shares or sells member’s information.

If you take medication to help manage your mental health issue and are concerned about maintaining access to your medications if you’re not able to get to the pharmacy, talk to your health insurer or pharmacy about signing up for mail order refills. Many local pharmacies also offer prescription delivery for a small fee or at no charge.

As always, if you are in crisis or having thoughts of self-harm, call 911 for immediate help.