5 Reasons Why Telepsychiatry Will Be Even Bigger in 2021

telepsychiatry in 2021


For many hospitals and healthcare systems, the coronavirus pandemic served as the catalyst to expanding telepsychiatry services – and for good reason. With nearly a third of Americans showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, there was an immediate need to provide mental and behavioral health care. However, with 2020 behind us, many healthcare leaders are wondering whether telepsychiatry services will be as in demand moving forward.

Rest assured, telepsychiatry will still be in demand. In fact, here are five reasons why telepsychiatry will be even bigger in 2021.

1. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going away immediately

At present, coronavirus cases are still surging throughout the United States and much of the world. Estimates vary as to what 2021 will bring in terms of number of cases and deaths, but one thing is clear: coronavirus will continue to affect mental health for some time. With different states once again entering varying degrees of lockdowns and preventative measures to limit the spread of the virus, telemedicine (and by extension, telepsychiatry) will remain the primary alternative to in-person care.

Telepsychiatry already played a pivotal role in the surge of psychiatric patients overwhelming emergency departments and hospitals. With cases again on the rise, hospitals and emergency departments will once again leverage telepsychiatry to provide urgently needed behavioral and mental health care.

2. Depression, suicide rates, and anxiety are still on the rise

Between the pandemic, social unrest, political strife, and lockdown measures, feelings of isolation and depression are widespread across the country. The data paints a similar picture.  

According to Mental Health America data, anxiety screens increased 93% between January to September 2020 compared to last year, with depression screens up 62%. Between April and September, 70% of people reported loneliness as the top contributing factor to mental health issues. Additionally, an increase of 1.5 million people who took the online screens for depression and anxiety requested an immediate need for resources and support. 

With patients still in need of mental and behavioral health services, telepsychiatry will be just as important in 2021 as it was in the previous year.

3. Virtual learning and remote work will increase demand for mental health resources

Virtual learning and remote work were at an all-time high throughout much of 2020, and we’ll likely see similar trends in 2021. Estimates are that 25-30% of the workforce will likely work-from-home multiple days per week by the end of 2021. With a significant portion of the population remote, access to mental and behavioral health resources will become an even more vital resource for the workforce and students.

Universities like Notre Dame are already adding 24/7 access to telemedicine for medical and mental health needs. Companies are also following suit, with nearly 53% of surveyed companies providing additional emotional and mental health program to their workforce during the pandemic. As these offerings become more prevalent, telepsychiatry and teletherapist services will become even more in demand to assist schools and workplaces.  

4. Legislation will likely create more opportunities in 2021

There were numerous legislative changes in 2020 that loosened restrictions and led to an increase in telemedicine access and adoption. Although initially viewed as temporary measures, these changes are likely to remain in place (or permanent) as patients become more accustomed to virtual care and the pandemic continues. With a new administration entering office, many healthcare leaders and organizations are calling for continued expansion of telehealth laws.  

Virginia has already expanded telemedicine coverage through July 2021, with more states soon to follow. The Center for Connected Health Policy provides up-to-date information and resources on telehealth-related laws and regulations.  

5. Telemedicine is headed towards more access to mental health services

Telemedicine spent the greater part of 2020 establishing itself as the go-to option for access to care, and 2021 will see similar growth. Especially in telepsychiatry, as the pandemic brought renewed focus on the importance of mental health services. According to a recent Forbes article on where telehealth is headed in 2021, “When combined with online prescription ordering and refills, virtual mental health services can be a true lifeline for patients who are having trouble leaving their home or managing multiple doctor and pharmacy visits.”

Telepsychiatry will be even bigger in 2021. With an increased focus on access to mental health resources and services, healthcare facilities and providers need to prepare now for the new year. An experienced telemedicine partner can guide the way.

VirtualMed Staff specializes in building custom telepsychiatry programs in a variety of care settings. From emergency departments, inpatient rounding, to acute care and outpatient facilities, we can customize programs to meet the needs of any healthcare facility. Schedule a meeting with a telemedicine specialist and let’s get started.