Telepsychiatry is essentially using technologies such as video chat or other digital communication methods to provide mental health care to those who need it. Telepsychiatry uses the internet and telecommunications tools to engage with clients and patients outside of a traditional therapy setting. Telepsychiatry is catching on quickly as technology becomes more advanced, affordable, and accessible.
Telepsychiatry has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that the idea really started to take off.
In 1993, Avner Shapiro created Telesource, an online mental health service. It was one of the first internet-based therapies available.
In 1997, Texas Tech University created the first online master’s degree in mental health
Now telepsychiatry is used in clinical practices all across America, typically for patients with limited access to care or in rural areas where mental health practitioners are hard to find. Telepsychiatry can also be a cost-effective and efficient alternative when there is a patient in need of therapy but is unable to make it to an appointment or they are in between treatment facilities.
Technology is making it easier for mental health care to be accepted and utilized, making more people eligible for treatment.
Telemedicine is used for more than just mental health care. It is used in a variety of ways,
- General healthcare consultation and management
- Patient education and self-monitoring of health
- Review and coordination of care between different healthcare professionals
- Online prescription refills
Telepsychiatry can be used in similar ways. It is typically used to:
- Screen and manage psychiatric symptoms
- Provide therapy or psychological assessment
- Facilitate group therapy sessions
- Monitor, manage, and educate patients on medications
Telemedicine is legal in most states, but there are restrictions.
- In some states, a licensed practitioner is not allowed to establish a long-distance relationship with a patient.
- Some states do not allow non-licensed professionals (such as social workers) to provide telemedicine care.
Another potential stumbling block is a lack of knowledge about the services’ availability.
A lot of the stigma surrounding mental health services is a result of misinformation.
- People may feel that going to therapy means they are crazy or that they will be judged or misunderstood by their therapists.
- They may think that telepsychiatry services are not safe or secure enough for them to use.
While there is still work to be done in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, telepsychiatry can also help with this issue by providing more people access to care regardless of where they live.
Telepsychiatry can be an effective way to expand mental health services in rural areas or help people who don’t have adequate insurance, transportation, or time to make it to appointments.
The use of telemedicine is still limited in some ways because there are no federal guidelines surrounding it. However, this would change if the proposed health care reform bill is passed.
The Bill would reimburse doctors for using telemedicine under Medicare and Medicaid, including reimbursement for travel costs incurred by the patient to see a provider who they can’t otherwise access by driving or public transportation.
Telepsychiatry has been shown to improve access to mental health care as well as provide individualized care for patients at a lower cost.
Telepsychiatry is especially beneficial to children and adolescents who don’t live near therapists or lack the time, transportation, or insurance needed to make it to appointments.
The use of telepsychiatry has also helped people overcome geographical barriers by improving access for those living far away from therapists.
In the future, it is expected that telemedicine will continue playing a role in mental health care and expand into other areas of medicine because it provides more people with access to healthcare services when they otherwise wouldn’t have it.
Conclusion: If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed out more often than not and are looking for a fresh approach to mental health care that is convenient and affordable, then telepsychiatry might be the right option for you.
Contact us today if you would like to learn about our doctors’ experience with this type of service! We’re here around the clock so there’s no need to wait until tomorrow morning when it could be too late!