Season 2 | Episode 20: Fighting for Mental Health Help
On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted the U.S. mental health crisis and the socio-economic disparities in mental health treatment.
Terry interviews Dr. Nishi Rawat, co-founder of OpenBeds and Senior Vice President at Appriss Health, who explains how telehealth use skyrocketed during the pandemic. She notes that roughly half of the telehealth use during this period was for mental health issues.
Dr. Rawat explains how many underserved communities face technological barriers to accessing such mental health treatment. Telehealth is not filling the healthcare gaps caused by treatment deserts in these areas. Telehealth is also unaffordable for many patients, including those without health insurance. She calls for a greater commitment to mental health services and technologies that reflect the current mental health landscape and its inequities. She compliments President Biden’s pro-equity Covid-19 response and suggests that it can be a model for all healthcare in the future.
Patient correspondent Kate Pecora interviews patient advocate Gabe Howard who discusses his diagnosis of bipolar disorder and explains how people can support those living with a mental illness. He tells his story of being committed to a psychiatric hospital and how difficult this was. He argues that there must be a better way to treat those with mental illness, given that he had excellent care and a supportive family and still nearly fell through the cracks. He suggests that relying on police officers to respond to mental health episodes is analogous to paramedics showing up at your house after a burglary. Ultimately, he argues that major reforms are needed to fix America’s broken mental health treatment system.