Access to mental health and substance use disorder care is highly inequitable and largely depends on the community where you live. Nearly 40% of Illinoisans live in areas designated by the federal government as having a shortage of mental health care professionals, with communities of color and rural communities facing particularly high barriers to accessing care. Ensuring Illinoisans have access to telehealth as an option to receive care is one way to mitigate these barriers and increase access to the mental health and substance use disorder treatment system.
Telehealth offers many advantages that make it easier for people to access care, first and foremost of which is flexibility. It also offers other advantages such as an increased number of providers for patients to choose from, stigma reduction, high patient engagement and satisfaction, and efficacy. In order for telehealth to be an accessible option for delivery of healthcare, we must have in place the necessary public policies to facilitate people’s ability to use telehealth as a means to accessing mental health and substance use disorder care. This means making sure we have payment and coverage parity between telehealth and in-person care, ensuring a patient or provider’s location is not used as a reason to deny coverage, and making sure that Illinoisans have access to the technology needed to take advantage of telehealth.
The Kennedy Forum Illinois is committed to increasing access to mental health and substance use disorder care and ensuring that all Illinoisans have access to telehealth as an option to receive care.