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May 20, 2022

How can asynchronous telehealth help manage the mental health crisis?

It’s mental health awareness month, and at Bright.md, bettering access to critical and often out-of-reach support like mental health services lays at the heart of our solution.

According to Mental Health America’s (MHA) annual report, The State of Mental Health in America, 2022, Americans are hurting now more than ever. Suicidal ideation continues to increase among adults, with nearly five percent of adults reporting serious thoughts of suicide—an increase of 664,000 people from last year’s data. The MHA labels this a “concerning trend to see” considering the larger increase compared with that seen in last year’s report.

Mental health and care access concerns

Another significant finding in the report showed more than half of those with a mental illness don’t receive treatment, making up more than 27 million adults in the U.S. In the nation’s “top-ranked” state of Vermont, 43 percent of adults with a mental illness were, still, not receiving treatment.

The percentage of adults with a mental illness who reported an unmet need for treatment has also increased every year since 2011. In 2019, about 25 percent of adults with a mental illness report an unmet need for treatment, while rates of substance abuse are also increasing for both youth and adults.

What role can asynchronous telehealth play?

Bright.md’s asynchronous solution includes clinical interviews to diagnose and treat hundreds of conditions—and the fastest-growing in use among our customers is our Behavioral Health interview, which helps treat anxiety, depression, and stress in patients. As a result, asynchronous treatment for these conditions is being offered by many of our health system customers to improve access to care for their communities, and more patients are choosing asynchronous care for their mental health needs.

Bright.md module use over time

Furthermore, 25 percent of patients who completed Bright.md’s asynchronous interview for anxiety, depression or stress for one health system partner said they “would have done nothing” had they not had access to Bright.md.

And that’s important, considering the MHA’s recent findings. Oftentimes, patients don’t know where to turn to for support, are nervous about stigma and also wary of face-to-face interactions. As a result, asynchronous telehealth is a viable option for many—in fact, studies show patients are more open, honest, and detailed about their mental health needs asynchronously than they are in-person or on video.

We hear this from Bright.md’s patient users as well. For instance:

  • “This felt less intimidating than an office visit to seek mental health advice for the first time.”
  • “It made getting mental health help so easy. For people who talk themselves out of treatment, it was ideal.”

How it all works

Bright.md’s behavioral health module is used by patients ages 18 to 64. Treatable diagnoses include:

  • Mild depression
  • Major depressive disorder, single (mild/moderate/severe)
  • Major depressive disorder, recurrent (mild/moderate/severe)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Adjustment disorder, unspecified (Reaction to severe stress)
  • Mixed anxiety and depression
  • Encounter for screening exam for other mental health and behavioral disorders

As part of the Bright.md solution, clinicians have access to proprietary clinical content, created and maintained by a team of physician writers, editors, and reviewers at Bright.md. Our behavioral health module content uses validated screening tools such as:

  • PHQ-9 for Depression
  • GAD-7 for Anxiety
  • Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS)
  • DSM-5 Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure for mania/hypomania
  • Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale (ASRM)
  • DSM-5 Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure for psychosis/hallucination
  • DSM-5 Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure for OCD
  • DSM-5 Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure for Substance Use
  • Audit-C for alcohol
  • DSM-5 Level 2 Substance Abuse screener for recreational/prescription drug use

Why this matters

With asynchronous telehealth, systems can truly begin to make an impact on the number of patients struggling with mental health issues. A digital-first, asynchronous model is a proven, effective way to scale treatment while bridging gaps in access.

Dive deeper into our latest insights on how patients are using asynchronous telehealth for mental health support in our recent webinar featuring Angela Fox, Bright.md’s Head of Analytics.
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