Virtual mental health consultations on the rise in Saskatchewan

A Saskatchewan-based startup has identified a new trend in the province regarding mental health needs and how residents are gaining access to resources.

A recent study from Saskatchewan-based company Lumeca Health shows demand for mental health consultations has increased in the province since the platform launched in March 2020.

In September and October, consultations relating to mental health made up about 6 per cent on the Lumeca app. This increased to over 8 per cent in November, and 10 per cent in December.

“So in November alone, we saw consults related to anxiety increase by about 19.2 per cent, and depression by 21.4 per cent,” explained Tom Douglass, a director with Lumeca Health.

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While Douglass said this increase is not surprising considering the events of last year, the numbers are still cause for concern.

“I think it’s pretty well established now that we’re going to be in this kind of trend for a little while here, and things are going to be tough, so this is a resource that we want people to have available,” he said.

Virtual consultations are working to meet the increased demand, and Douglass believes this online component will remain necessary even when the dust from the COVID-19 pandemic settles.

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“There are plenty of consults where 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 out of your day to do your consult.

“Or with the mental health consults, sometimes it’s just more comfortable to do that consult from home, than having to go into a crowded, busy office.”

Douglass said there will still be circumstances where a physician will need to refer a user for an in-person consultation, but virtual consultations will increase accessibility and convenience for many when possible.

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Lumeca Health is also working to launch a new section on its app to be called Lumeca Connect, which will allow physicians to run their clinic virtually on the platform.

“There’s a lot of potential here for cooperation for the empowerment of patients, and for efficiency.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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