SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mental health care is evolving. Sanford Health announced plans to make it easier for people to get help when needed, no matter where they are. Patients can schedule their own virtual behavioral health appointment online starting today.
Patients can now use the My Sanford Chart website or app to schedule a virtual behavioral health appointment. They can see a mental health professional from the comfort of their own home.
“We have people out there who really need help who just can’t get it, and even if they could, they might be driving six hours to get care. This way, we are coming to them instead of them coming to us. That makes a huge difference,” said Dr. David Ermer, a psychiatrist with Sanford Health.
Dr. Ermer says some people prefer talking to a mental health professional from home.
“Some people feel more comfortable, obviously when you are at home you are more comfortable, you’re in a comfortable setting if you have an anxiety disorder, some people struggle leaving their house,” he said.
The President of Sanford Virtual Health, Brad Schipper says there are still barriers when it comes to seeking help with our mental health
“What we would like everyone to know is, it’s normal, everybody needs a check-up from time to time, everybody needs help, its easy to say oh, I’ve talked to my trainer when I’m working out, or I went to my primary care doctor for this it should be no different when it comes to behavioral or mental health,” said Schipper
Everyone needs help once in a while, and virtual visits will make it easier at a time when there is a shortage of mental health professionals.
“The statistics are unbelievable that over 90 percent of our service areas are in a mental health shortage area,” said Schipper. “We know that 60 percent of your health is determined by your zip code and not your genetic code. We know that roughly two-thirds of our patients with mental illness are not receiving care.”