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Digital Mental Health Support Offered by WA Health Provider

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, made more timely by the stresses of the coronavirus outbreak. (ipopba/Adobe Stock)
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, made more timely by the stresses of the coronavirus outbreak. (ipopba/Adobe Stock)
May 4, 2020

SEATTLE -- The coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders are increasing the need for mental health resources.

To protect folks from the virus, one health care provider is supporting them at a safe distance with a digital resource at no cost to members.

The app, MyStrength, is now available from Kaiser Permanente Washington, making cognitive behavioral therapy accessible during this crisis.

Dr. Tobias Dang, medical director for mental health and wellness for the health care provider, says the app focuses on the emotional issues people want to address and the situations they're in.

"Is it work related, is it financial, is it relationship related?" he raises. "And what would you like to work on? Is it sleep, is it emotional health, is it meditation, or is it something more like physical activity or weight regulation?"

Dang says COVID-19 has led to more patients -- as well as new patients -- seeking mental health support.

For older folks, isolation has been a stressor, but Dang adds that families have seen additional stress from their new at-home situations, sometimes living in tight quarters.

Dang says Kaiser made a major adjustment in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. He says within a week, virtual access to care via video or phone went from about 5% or 10% of its work to 99%.

"That has really been made available to keep our patients safe, to not expose them to having to come to a medical center, and has received really widespread acceptance and enthusiasm," he explains.

Dang says Kaiser also hosts mental health support groups online. May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Disclosure: Kaiser Health Plan of Washington Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA