How telehealth is offering the future of healthcare to the future of America.
The United States Census Bureau defines Millennials as anyone born between 1982 and 2000. Millennials account for one quarter of the nation’s population and account for the population with the highest rates of mental health concerns. In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of telehealth among Millennials.
MILLENNIALS, TECHNOLOGY, AND TELEHEALTH
Technology is one of the most important factors when creating generational cut-offs. For example, Millennials are at an advantage when it comes to navigating technology, as they were born in the middle of the technology boom. Previous generations saw extraordinary leaps in technology throughout their lifetimes and have adjusted their skill sets to adapt.
However, young adults have no need to adapt to the ever-growing industry as they have been exposed to these technologies their entire lives. This is known as a generational technology gap and, in this instance, Millennials have a leg up.
So why not offer the future of modern healthcare, telehealth, to the most tech-savvy generation thus far? In fact, telehealth is being implemented in schools, college campuses, workplaces and millennial rich environments around the country.
Telehealth has noted the need for convenient and cost-effective medical treatment among Millennials. This is important to consider, as one of the greatest sources of anxiety for this populations is financial stress. Young adults (ages 18-34) have seen a 47% increase in major-depression diagnoses since 2013. Still, 1 in 5 Millennials do not seek treatment with convenience and cost being the greatest reasons for declining treatment.
COMMON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AMONG MILLENNIALS
75% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 24. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), 1 in 5 young adults lives with a mental health condition and is going untreated.
Many mental health disorders present in teens and young adults. Psychotic disorders, such a schizophrenia, typically begin to present in the age range of 15-35. Millennials falls directly within that age range, and need to know what mental health concerns to watch out for. Some of the more common mental health concerns include:
Millennials are experiencing higher levels of depression than any other generation before them. Many attribute this rise to loneliness, financial anxiety, and stress. A study conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield states that millennials have seen a 47% increase in major depression diagnoses since 2013. Depression is most common mental health condition affecting Millennials. Common symptoms include feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest, appetite or weights changes, sleep changes, etc.
Anxiety can present in many forms and levels of intensity. It is normal to experience occasional anxiety, but anxiety disorders occur over an extended period of time. 14% of American Millennials suffer from anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry or fear over common day-to-day problems for a period of at least six months. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), GAD affects 6.8 million young adults in any given year.
Social anxiety can prevent people from functioning in a work, school, or social environment. These losses of community and interpersonal connections can lead to isolation, depression and increased anxiety. Studies have shown that isolation and loneliness have been as detrimental to your physical health as smoking, obesity or high blood pressure. In contrast, people who take part in meaningful activities and social engagements with others tend to report feeling more more fullfilled, healthy, and positive. Social anxiety among Millennials
Common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include feeling nervous or restless, having a sense of impending doom or danger, trouble concentrating, shortness of breath, sleep changes, etc.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS (SADs)
According to a recent report from the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevenetion (CDC), Millennials are the most likely age demographic to die from alcohol, drug abuse, and suicide. The rate of alcohol-related deaths rose by 69% and the rate of drug-related deaths rose by 108% from 2007 to 2017. These increases show a direct correlation between the rise of mental health disorders and the opioid epidemic. Fatal overdoses involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, skyrocketed by 6,000%. Substance Abuse Disorders are often coupled with other mental health disorders. Offering behavioral and mental healthcare is one of the most recommended solutions for SADs.
According to data collected by the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of 10-34. Young adulthood is filled with a plethora of stressors including schooling, family life, pressures to succeed, physical and hormonal changes, etc. Risk for suicide is only heightened when other mental disorders are not addressed or properly managed.
Time magazine recently published an article about “Deaths of Despair”, or deaths related to drugs, alcohol or suicide. In the article, they address the increase in drug, alcohol, or suicide related deaths since 2007. The report states that overdose and suicide rates are climbing among Millennials. In 2017 alone, 36,000 millennials died “deaths of despair”, with fatal drug overdose being the biggest contributor.
According to The Kim Foundation, a supported resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide, 1 in 6 students nationwide have seriously considered suicide in the past year.
HOW TELEHEALTH CAN HELP
Mental health disorders are reportedly on the rise, however Millennials are more likely to receive mental healthcare through telehealth than any other generation. In fact, Millennials are three times as likely to have used telehealth to address mental health concerns. While mental health disorder rates are increasing, mental health stigmas are dwindling thanks to open discussion and relative commonality. Because of this, telehealth is both helping the mental health crisis and destigmatizing mental health in the process.
SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
Many states are implementing telehealth and telepsychiatry within schools and colleges to provide access to healthcare and counseling for students. It is particularly critical for students to have access to quality mental healthcare, as the stresses of school, relationships, and family life can wreak havoc on grades and educational performance as well as mental well-being.
According to the CDC, schools have direct contact with more than 95% of our nation’s young people, for about six hours per day and 13 critical years of their social, psychological, physical, and intellectual development. Schools around the country (K-12) are currently using telehealth to obtain assessments and to address stress, anxiety, and behavioral issues.
College-age students are also receiving the benefits of telehealth in college and university settings. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State, students (i.e.- Millennials) are actively seeking mental healthcare at a higher rate than ever before. The report states that anxiety and depression remain the most common issues among this demographic. Colleges and Universities have been using telehealth to address mental health concerns of students and staff for over a decade.
School and university-based telehealth results in less absences, quicker access, and convenience. Many educational facilities view telehealth as an extension of counseling services already in place, as telehealth can offer more specialized care and even after-hours consultations.
Telehealth also provides extended health and mental healthcare to people in remote or rural areas. People in rural areas are less likely to receive mental healthcare due to provider availability and location to available clinics. 60% of rural Americans live in areas with mental health provider shortages. In some areas, patients would have to drive 40-50 miles to the nearest available clinic to receive mental healthcare. Telehealth is making mental healthcare easy and accessible, as well as affordable. Millennials are at the epicenter of the mental health crises, and their proficiency with technology has made connecting to mental healthcare a snap.
TREATMENTS THROUGH TELEHEALTH
Effective treatments for mental health disorders vary, however generally speaking the most effective treatment includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication management. Each are individually beneficial. However, studies have proven that when psychotherapy and medication management are combined, the results are greater than when either are used alone.
Encounter telehealth offers evaluations, psychiatric medication management, counseling, psychotherapy, and staff training. Our combination of psychiatric medication management and psychotherapy has been proven to be the most beneficial treatment for most mental health conditions, and it’s all just a click away.
Telehealth is making it easy for young adults to connect with trusted and trained providers, and it is also increasing the probability that those young adults will seek mental healthcare to being with. With 20% of the population going without treatment for their diagnosed mental health disorders, telehealth is reaching out to help. Addressing and treating your mental health concerns has never been easier thanks to the advancements of modern medicine and technology. Telehealth is leading the future of healthcare, and Millennials are right on board.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (1-800-273-8255) https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Thank you for joining us in our last installment of our series ‘Telehealth Serves America’. To read more about how telehealth benefits Veterans, click HERE. To read how telehealth is benefiting our incarcerated Americans, click HERE.