Virtual therapy uptick to cope with mental health during COVID-19 outbreak

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In the face of uncertainty, the COVID-19 outbreak continues to take a toll on mental health, but what are the proper ways to keep yourself and loved ones balanced?

Now, more than ever, psychologists and mental health providers are using ‘teletherapy’ to help patients with mental health.

Tanya Pellettiere, a children and family psychologist in the Syracuse area, understands each of the stressors Central New Yorkers are facing — financial stress, maintaining jobs if you’re an essential employee, parenting challenges, students with the burden of remote learning and more.

“Kids and parents are being asked to do a lot on their own, which is really difficult,” Pellettiere said. “There are so many different things that are happening that are impacting and stressing our family lives and so overall we’re seeing an increase in stress.”

For Pellettiere, she’s been using teletherapy for a few years, but she’s had to go online only with patients ever since the local schools closed. She’s been using this to connect with the children and families she serves for close to a month.

“For my families just to have that touch point, that connection, to continue to support their underlying issues that were present even before this pandemic set in,” said Pellettiere.

In normal circumstances using teletherapy, providers and patients would need to follow strict rules and guidelines. One of those rules being HIPAA compliant video conference platforms.

But since there is such an uptick and need for virtual therapy, Pellettiere says the United States Health and Human Services Department and some insurance companies have relaxed some of their requirements.

It’s not usually been reimbursed at the same cost, at the same level. That now too has changed where the insurance companies are reimbursing us (providers) at the same rate as office visits.
One of my families reminded me that this is a piece of history that our families are going to be a part of, and can reflect and document and pass on what we’ve learned to the next generation about slowing down, about the use of technology for the good, and about social connectedness and what it means to be human beings and help one another.

Tanya Pellettiere, Children Psychologist

The Central New York Psychological Association is also providing support for local psychologists and mental health providers to help with the changes and challenges of COVID-19 in their clinical practice.

For more on coping with mental health, watch below for more of Pellettiere’s interview or visit her Facebook page for more resources during this pandemic.

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For more local news, follow Adrienne Smith on Twitter @AdrienneSmithTV.

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