Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2023

The role of policy in health is inseparable. Politics significantly dictate an array of interventions in healthcare. The government incorporates the population’s power bestowed upon them to produce policies that influence public health interventions to safeguard a community’s health and welfare. Most recently, on 30th March 2023, the Senate introduced the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2023 (Congress.gov, n.d.). The bill aims to protect and improve the mental wellness of underserved individuals in the suburban regions who depend on income from farming, fishing, and forestry. This bill establishes grants to support the development of mental health and substance use services within rural regions. According to Mongelli et al. (2020), underserved individuals in the United States face various challenges to access mental health services, including social stigma, unavailable mental health units and services, inaccessible hospitals, unaffordable services, lack of medical insurance, and delays in treatment. Mental health and wellness are a basic need and a public health concern globally. Therefore, necessary efforts toward ensuring healthcare for all and reducing disparities in access are crucial.

The significant social determinants of health impacting the populations in the proposed Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act bill are economic instability, lack of education, lack of support system, and inefficient healthcare services. People living in rural areas are likely to have inadequate healthcare services owing to the limited number of clinicians willing to provide services to the region and low socioeconomic status (Coombs et al., 2021). Thus, in the event of sickness, they are predisposed to delays in accessing health services due to limited funds, lack of health insurance, long travel costs, and hours in search of appropriate care facilities.

Telehealth adoption in healthcare is extensive to narrow the barriers to access. Research by McBain et al. (2023) found that telehealth significantly improved access to specialized health services and mental health treatment in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, where in-person services were unavailable. Results in this study demonstrate that the intergration of telehealth to promote rural healthcare areas can result in a marked expansion of mental health and substance use services, bypassing the avoidable travel and expensive treatment costs and time wastage. Hence, supporting the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act will significantly impact the health outcomes of individuals living in rural areas with blue-collar jobs.

 Respond to this by either supporting or respectfully challenging this explanation on whether there is an evidence base to support the proposed health policy they described.