Care for complex mental health conditions is shifting virtual

WWhen pandemic lockdowns closed the doors of the community in March 2020, leaders at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts needed a new plan. Some of the care they carefully provided is not personally safe anymore. By the end of April, McClain had overhauled her approach, launching online services for people who needed partial hospitalization.

Three thousand miles away, a similar trial was conducted on the same schedule at UCLA’s Intensive Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Program, where patients came for more specialized help when light-touch treatments didn’t work. Moving software by default was a risky idea, but it came out of necessity. Intensive outpatient mental health care has, for years, relied on important steps designed for personal interactions: getting up and going to the outpatient program every day to create a sense of routine, coping skills through exposure therapy in real-world environments and participating in group sessions.

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