The pandemic is creating spikes in mental health issues as isolation and other COVID-19-related stress is causing many to experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. Since in person visits are not an option for most the country, people are now looking to telehealth therapy for help.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has reported that half of the 500,000 telehealth visits that they have processed over the last six weeks have been for therapy and mental health issues. Before the outbreak, there were virtually no telehealth mental health visits, according to Dr. Ken Duckworth, the associate medical director for behavior health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and the medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Duckworth told Jim Braude of WGBH New’s Greater Boston on Tuesday that he now sees the increased use of telehealth therapy as a “silver” lining to the pandemic and “a game changer” for the mental health field.

Duckworth said that he was surprised by how much patients, therapists and psychiatrists are enjoying their experiences with telehealth.

“I think this may change how people receive mental health care in the future,” Duckworth said. “You no longer have to drive, you no longer have to pay for parking and people show up on time on their zoom calls."

Duckworth emphasized the need attend to your mental health and not wait until you are emotionally overwhelmed.

“If you are anxious, if you are isolated, if you have a history of depressions, getting help is going to be more important than ever,” he said. “There is no health without mental health.”