A recent study by Saskatchewan-based Lumeca Health shows that the demand for mental health consultations in the province has increased since the platform’s launch in March 2020.
In October and September, mental health consultations on the Lumeca app accounted for around 6 percent. This rose to over 8 percent in November and to 10 percent in December.
“In November alone, consultations related to anxiety rose about 19.2 percent and depression-related consultations increased 21.4 percent,” said Tom Douglass, director of Lumeca Health.
Although Douglass said the increase wasn’t surprising given last year’s events, the numbers remain cause for concern.
“I think it’s pretty well established that we’re going to be in this kind of trend here for a while, and things are getting tough. So that’s a resource people should have available,” he said.
Virtual consultations are working to meet the increased demand, and Douglass believes this online component will remain necessary even after the dust of the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
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“There are a lot of consultations that they can be virtual,” he said. “Especially when it comes to acute care, where you don’t have to leave work and take two hours to give your advice.
“Or when it comes to mental health consultations, sometimes it’s easier to get that counseling from your home than having to go to a crowded, busy office.”
Douglass said there will still be circumstances where a doctor needs to refer a user for a personal consultation, but virtual consultations will improve accessibility and convenience for many when possible.
Lumeca Health is also working to launch a new section in its app called Lumeca Connect, where doctors can run their clinic virtually on the platform.
“There is a lot of potential here to work together for patient empowerment and efficiency.”