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Patients turn to virtual therapy during social distancing; many suffer from coronavirus anxiety

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Posted at 3:55 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 23:36:13-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va .— Mental health professionals have to see their patients, even if it’s from a distance.

Amanda Snow is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner in Virginia Beach, and she’s not letting social distancing keep her away from patients in need.

“You have to see your patients; we are liable for our patients,” says Snow.

Snow is using telepsychiatry to video conference with patients and move beyond the boundaries coronavirus has established.

“I would ask her the basic questions: How are your medications working? Do you need anything?" explained Snow. “It would be a normal session; I would be able to see her, she sees me.”

Snow says she sees 10-15 patients a day through telepsychiatry— double the amount of people with whom she would normally have video conferences.

“Given the fact that some patients are a little bit more anxious than others and more depressed and need help - they’re not willing to come out of their home with all this going on, so we do need to see them.”

Snow says many people find it to be more comfortable than coming into the office.

“They’re in their own home so they’re willing to talk to you a lot because it’s their environment, so you kind of get more things out of them.”

Snow spends much of her time now trying to ease growing anxiety over coronavirus uncertainty.

“They’re absolutely anxious over this virus, they’re anxious over supply issues, they’re anxious over everything.”

There are some downsides to going virtual, like bridging the technology gap for new users.

“I had a patient the other day - it took us 30 minutes. I had to walk her through the process by phone, but I was able to get on and I was able to see her, and we are able to get things rolling."

Depending on a client’s history, Snow says it may not be the right fit.

“If you have a population that’s unstable and needs that one-on-one, it’s not going to be so easy.”

Related: Coronavirus versus anxiety: How to protect your mental health

Now more than ever, Snow says people shouldn’t be afraid to try a new way to get the treatment they need.

“You have to try everything once before you can say no to it.”

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