Washington, DC, October 12, 2020 — A new Child Mind Institute/Ipsos poll finds that three quarters of parents who have recently used/sought out mental health treatment for their child have used telehealth services for their child’s mental health challenges/issues since the start of the pandemic. Most parents say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their child’s emotional well-being, behavior, and mental/physical health, with 48% saying the coronavirus pandemic has increased their desire/need to seek mental health care for their child. Among those who have used telehealth services for their child since the start of the pandemic, an overwhelming majority report having favorable experiences/opinions - and most would recommend to other parents seeking help for children with mental health or learning challenges.
Seven in ten (69%) parents who have a child for whom they sought out mental health treatment in the past 12 months have used telehealth services when addressing their child’s needs in the past. Another 14% tried but did not end up using, while 17% have never tried nor used this form of treatment for their child’s mental health or learning issues.
- Among those who have used/tried to use telehealth services for their child’s mental health treatment, 75% say that they have used these services for their child since the start of the pandemic. Another 23% tried to use but did not follow through with treatment.
- Most parents who used/sought telehealth treatment for their child since the start of the pandemic say that their child was already working with this professional in person (84%). Psychiatrists (31%) and psychologists (30%) are most likely to be consulted to address a child’s needs.
- Looking at telehealth usage for other purposes (e.g., physical health, medical treatment, or parents’ own mental health), six in ten have used these services for such reasons (61%).
- Convenience is an important consideration for 83% of parents when making mental health appointments decisions - and another eight in ten agree that telehealth appointments (e.g., video conference, phone) are more convenient than going to in-person appointments (80%).
- For just as many, the ability to access mental health care in the privacy of their own home is important (79%).
Nearly half (48%) of parents surveyed say that the pandemic has increased their desire/need to seek mental health care for their child. The mental health of parents is not as likely to have been negatively impacted, though a third (32%) also say their desire/need to seek mental health care for themselves has increased in light of the pandemic.
- Nearly eight in ten agree that social distancing and less in-person contact have been difficult for their child (78%) and another 78% report that their child has experienced increased feelings of sadness, anger, or worry during the pandemic. In both cases, more than a third of parents strongly agree.
- During the pandemic, more than two thirds of parents have witnessed a decline in their child’s emotional well-being (72%), behavior (68%), and physical health due to decreased activities/ exercise (68%).
- Anxiety (40%) and depression (37%) are the most common mental health challenges leading parents to seek telehealth services for their child. Among those who have used/tried to use telehealth since the start of the pandemic, three in ten also sought help for problem behavior (30%) and ADHD (30%). Learning challenges are also reported by one in four (23%) while other challenges/concerning behaviors fall below this threshold.
- Talk therapy (49%) is the most common service parents have accessed or sought out through telehealth for their child, though a third of parents who have used/tried to use telehealth since the start of the pandemic also report accessing/seeking out psychiatric medication consultation (32%) and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (31%).
Most parents would be open to using telehealth treatment if they could not access in-person mental health treatment for their child (80%), including half who strongly agree. Among those who have used telehealth services since the start of the pandemic, 85% plan to continue telehealth sessions for their child in the near future.
- Most parents say that they would be more likely to use a telehealth provider instead of an in-person provider if they wanted to bring their child to a mental health professional today (57% vs. 11% who would be less likely).
- Just under half (48%) say they would be more likely to bring their child to a telehealth provider instead of an in-person provider if they wanted to bring their child to a mental health professional after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have passed.
- Among parents who have used telehealth services since the start of the pandemic, 83% say they are likely to continue using these services during the pandemic – and 78% say that they are likely to continue using telehealth services after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Among those who have used telehealth services since the start of the pandemic, opinions and experiences are overwhelmingly positive. For those who sought telehealth treatment since the start of the pandemic but did not use, lack of cooperation on the child’s part is the most common reason cited for not following through with using telehealth provider.
- Most parents who have used telehealth since the start of the pandemic say that their child has benefitted from these services (85%) and 84% say that the experience of participating in telehealth sessions has been positive for their child. More than three quarters (78%) also report seeing a significant improvement in their child’s symptoms since starting telehealth treatment.
- Nearly nine in ten (87%) would recommend using telehealth services for children with mental health or learning challenges.
- Among parents who have not used nor tried to use telehealth since the pandemic, a third (34%) have considered seeking telehealth treatment for their child’s mental health since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For those who have considered treatment, the majority say anxiety (52%) and depression (52%) led them to consider telehealth services for their child, though 44% say that their child’s lack of cooperation stopped them from following through. One in four parents who have considered seeking telehealth since pandemic also mention concerns about costs (26%) and inability to find appropriate professionals (26%) as reasons for not seeking treatment.
About the Study
These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted September 14 - 28, 2020 on behalf of the Child Mind Institute. For the survey, a sample of 351 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. In order to qualify for the survey, respondents had to be the parent/caregiver of at least one child under the age of 18 who received/sought out mental health treatment for his/her emotional and behavioral well-being in the past 12 months.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 6.0 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=351, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-7.5 percentage points for all respondents).
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