This article was last updated on May 2, 2022.
When you hear the words “virtual doctor,” what comes to mind? A hologram popping up at a moment’s notice? A robot you chat with online?
It’s easy to let your imagination run wild, especially if you haven’t given virtual visits — also known as telehealth services — a try yet. But a virtual doctor is just like any other board-certified physician — you just receive treatment via a video call from your phone, tablet or computer.
And as it turns out, virtual doctors can play a huge part in your overall health, even your mental health.
Wondering if you have benefits for telehealth services?
Before making an appointment, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members can check their coverage by logging in to myWellmark®, our secure member portal. Don’t have an account? Register to access today.
How a virtual doctor treat your mental health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a mental illness External Site or disorder at some point in their lifetime. And, based on a Blue Cross® Blue Shield® Health of AmericaSM Report External Site, six out of the top ten conditions impacting the millennial generation are behavioral conditions related to mental and emotional well-being.
Yet, more than half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment External Site, according to Mental Health America. From shame to lack of access many people find it can be challenging to reach out for help Opens New Window, but it doesn’t have to be.
Virtual visits, behavioral health and the COVID-19 pandemic
Survey data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows three in four Americans with behavioral health conditions continued therapy services External Site during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the availability of virtual visits and other digital health services. In fact, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield saw virtual visits for behavioral health conditions increase by more than 3,000 percent Opens New Window from March 2020 to July 2020. Most of the virtual visit claims were for existing patients who wanted to avoid missing a behavioral health service, even amid the pandemic.
Is seeing a virtual doctor the best option for my mental health?
You and your virtual doctor will decide the best course of treatment for your specific needs. Maybe you would prefer in-person one-on-one counseling or group therapy sessions. But if you’re not sure, virtual visits are a great place to start and figure out what works best for you.
Here are a few benefits of choosing virtual visits.
- Convenience: According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America External Site, the benefits of therapy are usually seen 12–16 weeks after starting. It’s not always possible for people to consistently schedule and make time for these appointments. Virtual visits fit into your schedule to make consistent treatment as easy as possible.
- Affordability: Cost of care can be a huge barrier for people seeking mental health treatment. Virtual visits may be covered by your Wellmark health insurance plan. And, even if they aren't, they may still be more affordable than regular trips to a mental health professional. Just make sure you log in to myWellmark® Opens New Window and check your specific benefits before receiving care.
- Privacy: Over time you should develop a relationship with your virtual doctor. But texting, emails, and phone calls can be an easier way to build trust and open up about sensitive feelings you may be experiencing.
If you've been wondering how to get help with your mental health, a virtual doctor visit might be a place to begin. So reach out, ask questions, and get started. It could be just what you need for a boost in your health.
If you are concerned about your mental health and need immediate help, please take advantage of the resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control External Site.
Doctor On Demand physicians do not prescribe Drug Enforcement Administration-controlled substances, and may elect not to treat conditions or prescribe other medications based on what is clinically appropriate.
For plans that include benefits for mental health treatment, Doctor On Demand benefits may include treatment for certain psychological conditions, emotional issues and chemical dependency. Services performed by Doctor On Demand psychologists are covered. Doctor On Demand does not provide psychiatry services. For more information, call Wellmark at the number on your ID card.
Doctor On Demand is a separate company providing an online telehealth solution for Wellmark members. Doctor On Demand® is a registered mark of Doctor On Demand, Inc.