How Telehealth Changed Mental Healthcare Forever
Advances in communication technology have changed nearly every facet of our society. The internet and smartphones have affected how we shop, eat, sleep, and communicate with others. It’s no wonder that this same technology has fundamentally changed mental healthcare. Telehealth allows patients to connect with providers in new and effective ways.
There are generally two types of telehealth in mental health: teletherapy and telepsychiatry. These appointments have already begun to revolutionize patent care in mental health, and there seem to be more advancements on the horizon.
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy is an online video conference between a patient and their therapist. Providers give much the same care through teletherapy as they would during in-office therapy sessions. Through regular teletherapy sessions, patients overcome obstacles and reverse negative patterns. Studies show that teletherapy is as effective as in-person therapy sessions. For some patients, teletherapy is more effective because they can attend with more consistency.
What is Telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry uses video conferencing to connect patients to medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. Patients discuss their symptoms, and psychiatrists may prescribe medication as they see fit. Many patients use telepsychiatry alongside teletherapy. Telepsychiatry can allow patients to access the medicine they need without many of the barriers to in-person care.
Bringing Mental Health Services to Rural Locations
Sadly, about 115 million people in the United States live in a place with a severe shortage of mental health providers. These areas have fewer than one provider for every 30,000 people, and some counties don’t even have one psychiatrist or psychologist. Generally, these shortages are in rural areas with fewer medical resources in general.
On the other hand, about 90 percent of people in the country have access to the internet. As such, telehealth allows more people to access mental health services. Even if you live somewhere with too-few mental health resources, telehealth can be an effective resource for you.
Overcoming More Obstacles to Care
A critical lack of providers is not the only thing that can keep people from getting the mental health help they need. Even when people live in areas with enough resources, it can be difficult to access mental healthcare for reasons such as:
- Lack of Transportation: Commuting to and from a mental health provider’s office regularly can cost time and money. Telepsychiatry and teletherapy allow people to get care without those burdens.
- Differing Abilities: Behavioral, mental health, and physical disabilities can make leaving home for appointments unrealistic or challenging. With telehealth, such people can address their mental health challenges without adding the stress of leaving home.
- Stigma: Although awareness campaigns continue to teach people about the importance of mental healthcare, many people worry about the stigma that comes with getting this kind of help. Telehealth allows people to attend sessions without anyone else knowing.
Connecting Mental Health Providers to Other Professionals
In the midst of a mental health crisis, many people seek help through the nearest emergency room. This is often the best step to take in order to keep the person physically safe. However, emergency room doctors do not specialize in mental healthcare. Due to the nationwide shortage of psychiatrists and therapists, these professionals typically cannot be in emergency rooms.
With telehealth services, emergency room providers can connect with mental health professionals when they are needed. This practice is new, but it is starting to help people across the country get the continuing assistance that they need after the emergency room has helped them survive the hardest moments.
Telehealth has revolutionized mental health services from every angle. If you’re ready to experience the benefits of telepsychiatry or teletherapy for yourself, contact us today.