Mental health plays a key role in your overall well-being, regardless of your age or ethnicity. People of all age groups and ethnicities deserve equal access to healthcare for mental well-being. Unfortunately, limited access to healthcare is a problem for many people in underserved communities. Until the system changes, there are a few ways you can alleviate this issue and minimize its impact on your own mental well-being.
Why Access to Healthcare for Mental Well-Being Is Key
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic highlights the importance of access to healthcare for mental health, particularly among individuals in underserved communities.
Research indicates four in 10 adults experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic. Previously, one in 10 adults dealt with these symptoms from January to June 2019.
Now consider the direct and indirect effects the pandemic has had on people dealing with a chronic disease. During the pandemic itself, stay-at-home orders meant that some peoples’ conditions worsened. These individuals must take appropriate precautions to guard against COVID-19 infection. This can lead them to spend long periods at home. It can also cause them to ignore healthcare visits.
Let’s not forget about underserved populations in healthcare during the pandemic, either. African Americans, Latinos, as well as American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), represent three of the most underserved populations in healthcare. The elderly and those in rural areas represent two, even more, vulnerable subsets of these groups. These inequities became more apparent during the pandemic. This is because members of these populations were more likely than others to contract COVID-19.
The pandemic is not an excuse for limited access to healthcare of any kind. Everyone should be able to find safe and healthy ways to cope with mental health issues. If you are coping with a chronic disease, pursue healthcare services and advocate for yourself when receiving care.
How Members of Underserved Communities Can Access Healthcare Services for Mental Well-Being
Healthcare providers are working diligently to provide equitable access to services. They encourage members of underserved communities to come forward to request healthcare services any time they need them. That way, these individuals can get the help they need to manage their mental well-being now and in the future.
Those in underserved communities should not wait to seek out mental health treatment options. Those especially who are trying to manage symptoms of anxiety or another mental health condition while living with a chronic illness should explore medical treatment options immediately.
Home health and telehealth can help keep healthcare costs down wherever treatment is needed, providing people with access to healthcare services from virtually any location, at any time. As such, they have become increasingly popular during the pandemic.
Home health and telehealth allow patients to connect to a doctor via their computer or mobile device. This allows them to conduct a video chat with a doctor and share their concerns or questions. In the same meeting, the doctor can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Mental health counselors also provide home health and telehealth visits. For example, a patient can schedule a weekly mental wellness appointment with a counselor and join the appointment via computer or mobile device to chat in real-time. Not only is this convenient for doctors, it means patients won’t have to stress about dealing with traffic or travel costs.
Additionally, patients can engage with each other via online communities, providing them the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences regarding mental health. Members of these communities may also share resources related to managing and maintaining mental wellness.
Take Care of Your Mental Well-Being
Members of underserved communities should not put their mental health on the backburner. Although there is a need for widespread change in order to truly have equitable healthcare, it’s a large undertaking that has an indefinite timeline. For the time being, it is important to advocate for oneself and one’s community, be proactive, and pursue available mental health treatment options.
Remember, mental health issues can escalate quickly and won’t disappear on their own. There are a variety of healthcare services for mental well-being, as well as community efforts in pursuing better collective health.
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