As of right now, there is an end in sight to the emergency phase of the pandemic in the United States. Although the burden of the crisis has begun to subside, experts are also predicting long-term effects on people’s mental health. With mental health professionals already being overworked and overbooked, how will we handle this mental health crisis?
The outbreak of the pandemic in March spurred anxiety and depression in the population, which has remained elevated ever since. The uncertainty and fear regarding the coronavirus itself; job loss and housing and food insecurity; working from home and coping with kids' remote learning; and the loss of relationships and grief has also led to a higher rate of insomnia and alcohol abuse according to experts.
Some people’s feelings of anxiety and depression during the pandemic will dissolve as routine can resume — people go back to work, social connections are restored, and danger seems to vanish from activities. Others, however, will face new or worse mental health problems that persist or even appear as the years go by, a number that can be quite high given the magnitude of despair and disruption. A burden like that, however large, could put an even greater strain on the already stretched mental health system.
According to APA research conducted in November 2020, mental health professionals reported an increase in patients of almost 30% since the outbreak began. In addition, they reported treating 74% more patients for anxiety disorders and 60% more for depressive disorders.
Many mental health professionals are experiencing a surge in patients, but the influx has overbooked them, forcing them to place clients on long wait lines or to stop accepting new patients altogether.
A combination of heavy caseloads, growing concerns about the well-being of patients, and an inadequate work-life balance because of the pandemic is increasing the risks of burnout among mental healthcare professionals. Stress and burnout can affect a therapist’s ability to provide quality care to patients. They can also have other health problems, such as insomnia, heart disease, excessive stress, and an increased risk of other illnesses.
This leaves many people asking how they can get help and support when they need it as well as while they are waiting to see the therapist. As well as what can be done to prevent mental health worker burnout and ease their mind when it comes to the worry they have for their patients?
With the help of Tess, a mental health chatbot, of which the content is written by psychologists and coaches. Individuals and patients will get access to safe and non-judgmental space for us to talk while waiting to see their therapist or whenever they need support. Tess is available 24/7.
Tess provides mental health support, education, and coping mechanisms to the patient through a variety of existing protocols, including SMS. Tess helps monitor the patient's emotional signal and automated escalation protocols. At a critical moment, the therapist can intervene for escalation of treatment upon detecting certain triggers such as suicidal thoughts. Tess allows therapists from helping five patients a day to positively impacting 50 patients a day.
With access to Tess individuals and employees can get the emotional support and care they need when they need it. Assisting with reducing anxiety and stress in the patients, and helping to rid the psychologist of burnout and worry. This is good news for anyone dealing with the mental health crisis.