May is Mental Health Month, which is dedicated to educating the public on how to support those struggling with mental illnesses and increasing awareness on the state of behavioral healthcare services. A new report, the 2021 COVID-19 Mental Health Impact Report, published by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions Health Care, provides insight that acknowledges the profound impact the pandemic has had on behavioral health services.

Although it has been largely assumed that such services have been in greater demand during the pandemic, the data helps to confirm what has been suspected. It’s not surprising that mental health telehealth visits increased during the pandemic. What is surprising is the dramatic spike of 6,500 percent in one year.

Understanding the Data Trends

To understand the impact of COVID-19 on behavioral health, the report leverages data from 2.2 billion de-identified medical claims in LexisNexis MarketView™. The report tracks data from eight key metrics, including visits for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It found that more patients overall are seeking treatment for mental and behavioral health services during the pandemic, while those who had already been using these services showed a slight increase in visits during the early months.

The surge in telehealth claims for behavioral health services emphasizes how the use and adoption of telehealth accelerated as a result of the pandemic. Pre-COVID, telehealth claims data showed an average of 16,000 patients per month. That number spiked dramatically, however, from January 2020 through February 2021 to 1,020,000 per month. 

The mental strains of family illness, job loss, and social isolation can be a contributing factor to many mental health disorders. The continuing need for behavioral health services has ensured the rapid adoption of telehealth services by providers and patients. This logically suggests that remote behavioral health visits will continue to be an acceptable form of treatment and should be a modality for all providers who treat patients for related issues in the future.

Read the 2021 COVID-19 Mental Health Impact Report to learn more about the eight areas that were tracked and the resulting data.

May Mental Health Month – You Are Not Alone

mental health

Now more than ever, we need to find ways to stay connected with our community. No one should feel alone or without information or support. The message the National Alliance on Mental Health is amplifying in 2021 is “You Are Not Alone.” The focus is on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay.

Learn more about Mental Health Month and reach out to family and friends to show them you care. It’s also important to check on your own health. Use this online screening tool to help determine if you are experiencing excess stress. Call Washington Listens at 1-833-681-0211 for support and resources.