The COVID-19 epidemic not only led to a deteriorating mental health crisis and drastically reduced access to in-person primary care services. Telemedicine was quickly adopted by primary care, an important supplier of mental health treatments, to meet the growing need for services in this area. Here, researchers took a look at how primary care providers, such as hospitals, clinics, and community health centers, handled the delivery of mental health services throughout the pandemic, with the use of technologies like telemedicine.

The Larry A. Green Center conducted a cross-sectional survey of primary care physicians across the country in November 2020 to get this information. The poll was sent out to a large group of people through various affiliated groups and newsletter subscribers. Statistical methods like the descriptive and chi-squared tests were used. 

A total of 1,472 respondents indicated an increase in patients’ mental health requirements (88%) and substance abuse rates (37%). About 65% of doctors were more active in helping people with mental health issues, and 64% said they used telemedicine to do so. Patients who were uninsured were more likely to receive care over the phone (60% vs 42%, P < .01),) or Medicare beneficiaries (45% vs 36%, P < .05) or non-English speake.rs (67% vs 40%, P < .001) or members of racial or ethnic minorities (58% vs 34%, P < .001). The role performed by primary care providers in providing mental health services has been crucial during the pandemic. 

Clinicians in primary care have established relationships with their patients and can reach out to populations who may have difficulty obtaining mental health services in other ways. Access to mental health treatment for all has been greatly improved by the widespread adoption of telemedicine in primary care, especially through the use of phone-based services.

Source: jabfm.org/content/35/5/891