The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other psychological ailments affect nearly one in five Americans, or 43.8 million people. However, it can be difficult for people with behavioral problems to seek help from a mental health professional and receive an accurate diagnosis. Mental health services are often offered in abundance in urban and suburban areas, making it difficult for people in rural areas to conveniently access the help that they need. That’s where tele-mental health comes in.
What is Tele-mental Health?
The Tele-mental Health Guide defines tele-mental health as “the provision of mental health services using live, interactive videoconferencing.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? In an instant we can use videoconferencing to virtually connect face-to-face with our friends, out-of-state relatives and business associates – so why not use this technology to serve mental health patients from afar? Tele-mental health consultations are an increasingly popular way to provide quality mental health services to those living in underserved communities with limited clinicians.
What are the Benefits of Tele-mental Health Services?
Without convenient access to mental health services, those suffering tend to neglect seeking proper treatment. Who wants to drive 200 miles out of town to the closest specialist for continuous care? In the past, patients were forced to make that kind of time and shell out for gas, potential childcare and missed work days if they wanted to be seen. Tele-mental health consultations provide mental health access like never before for both doctors and patients. Some of the benefits associated with tele-mental health services include:
- Access to patients worldwide, resulting in an increased patient pool for practitioners
- Ability to facilitate an immediate 3-way consultative session with a specialist through video conferencing, allowing for more comprehensive care on the same visit
- Higher consumer and practitioner satisfaction
- Increased convenience and efficiency
- Minimized/eliminated travel costs for patients
- Increased comfortability for those who find it difficult to open up to specialists in person
- Same day psychological test results
- Reduced emergency care costs (by diagnosing and treating illnesses earlier on).
What is the Goal of Tele-mental Health Services Moving Forward?
The primary goal of tele-mental health services is to provide patients with the highest quality comprehensive care. Many clinical groups and medical professionals that have employed tele-mental health capabilities have reported that the efficiency of remote care is on par with in-person care.
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