Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Care in Massachusetts through Telehealth: Sustaining Progress Post-Pandemic

July 14, 2020

At the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Massachusetts led the nation in rapidly deploying progressive policies to temporarily expand access to telehealth. These changes have enabled significant increases in adoption of telehealth, including telebehavioral health, for providers and consumers in a short period of time. Prior to COVID-19, utilization of telebehavioral health had not gained widespread spread traction in Massachusetts despite its potential as a means to dramatically improve access to behavioral health care services, particularly for vulnerable populations.

This report provides policymakers and other behavioral health stakeholders with an overview of the state’s current telebehavioral health landscape; a description of the attributes of an optimal telebehavioral health care delivery model; and a summary of the common barriers to provider and consumer adoption of telebehavioral health services in Massachusetts. It also outlines a series of policy and programmatic recommendations – including maintaining many of the temporary policy advances made during the COVID-19 pandemic – that will better enable the delivery of telebehavioral health care and support increased consumer engagement with and use of telebehavioral health services.