How to use telehealth for mental health

As we move into the winter months of this pandemic, many people are experiencing increased isolation and stress, which can contribute to deteriorating mental health. If you or your loved ones are struggling emotionally, Balanced You wants you to know that you are not alone, and that professional help is available from the safety of your home through telehealth.

Telehealth for mental health

Due to social distancing restrictions, many counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists now offer telehealth counseling appointments as an alternative to meeting in-person. King County employees and family members enrolled in Kaiser and Regence medical plans have access to telehealth services that allow you to virtually access these providers using a tablet, smart phone, or personal computer.

Details can be found below on how to navigate Regence and Kaiser to access mental health care via telehealth. For more information on telehealth, visit the King County Telehealth page.

Regence members

Regence members have two options for accessing mental health care via telehealth. The first option is by going through normal channels, meaning you find a counselor, psychiatrist, or other type of provider you’d like to see and you set up a telehealth appointment. These appointments will be covered at the same rate as in-person mental health appointments for in-network and out-of-network providers.

The second option is to set up an appointment through Regence’s telehealth program, Doctor on Demand. Doctor on Demand offers many types of medical providers, including behavioral health specialists with whom you can schedule repeat visits. Doctor on Demand visits normally have a $10 deductible, but this fee is waived during the pandemic. To access Doctor on Demand services, register online or download the Doctor on Demand phone app from the Apple or Android store. For customer service, call 800-997-6196.

Kaiser members

Kaiser offers a robust network of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists via telehealth. To schedule a mental health appointment, contact 888-287-2680. The cost for mental health telehealth appointments for Kaiser members is a $20 copay.

Kaiser’s telehealth services are free to members and can be used for counseling referrals and psychiatric prescription drug refills. If you’re enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente SmartCare plan, you have many options to access care from your mobile phone or computer, including:

To access the Kaiser telehealth options, call the advice number on your Kaiser membership card or go to Get Care.

Additional Mental Health Resources

Balanced You has resources King County employees can access to support your mental health as we move navigate the pandemic together. Many of our resources listed below have updated their offerings to include coronavirus-related content.

  • Making Life Easier and Employee Assistance Program: Making Life Easier (MLE) provides referrals to behavioral counselors and up to eight free behavioral health sessions. Whenever possible, MLE tries to refer you to a provider that’s in the network of your health plan so that you can transition seamlessly to having your health plan pay for your counseling services beyond the eighth session.  MLE also provides referrals to financial, credit and legal consultations, mortgage assistance, childcare resources and referrals, and other daily living supports. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free counseling to help King County employees navigate workplace stress.
  • Better Choices, Better Health: Better Choices, Better Health is a six-week, online, small-group based workshop designed to improve the lives of people living with long-term health conditions, including anxiety and depression. This program is free for King County employees and dependents.
  • Mindfulness: Balanced You staff have partnered with Mindfulness Northwest to develop a series of mindfulness videos. The five videos, ranging from two to 14 minutes, cover topics including breath awareness and gratitude and are available on-demand so you can practice mindfulness any time and anywhere that fits your schedule.
  • Mental Health Resource Guide: View this guide for additional King County and community-based mental health support resources.

Questions? Contact balancedyou@kingcounty.gov.

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