Expanding Horizons: Executive Order Options for Mental Health Access

This week’s blog is written by Daniel Cazares, SCY Student Program Assistant on the recent executive order given by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Due to the rapid and exponential growth in COVID-19 throughout the nation – in addition to case increases in the state of Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has taken the initiative to extend Telehealth services through an executive order. The importance behind Telehealth Services is helping mitigate the current shelter-in-place order; this allows for the provision of remote services to be offered, including health care, psychiatry, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, and other related services to a patient.

Under this executive order, coverage may be provided by any in-network provider. Since the level and quality of service remain unchanged, this helps eliminate any imposition on treatment limitations or stringent requirements applicable when services are provided in-person.

In a situation like the one we are currently experiencing on a global scale; anxiety is high – and isolation can be harmful, especially for individuals and families who may be struggling financially or with other underlying physical or mental health conditions. Telehealth services offer a two-way communication channel, giving patients access from anywhere. Furthermore, it offers added protection for both clients and clinicians by practicing proper social distancing.

While the objective of the executive order is to reduce transmission of COVID-19 by eliminating non-essential in-patient visits; allowing individuals who are self-isolating to still receive treatment; and freeing up space in hospitals and other health facilities, many providers are working to troubleshoot the barriers to serving the community during the shelter-in-place order. For example, not all clients have access to resources like reliable internet connections, and/or mobile devices and computers/laptops. Services are dependent on accessibility – meaning, treatment can vary through phone or video sessions. Furthermore, providers are considering the privacy concerns related to Telehealth since many people in need of mental health services may lack private space to ensure confidentiality.

Despite these barriers, the availability of Telehealth services during this crisis is an important part of addressing mental health needs for Chicago youth and their families.

For further information regarding Telehealth services, review the following links to become informed: 

Mental health and self-care resources are readily available. If you or someone you know is in need of these services, call 1-800-950-6264. Provided below are additional online resources: 

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