During the Pandemic when everyone was going through mental health issues and there was no access to mental health care services. Technology came to our aid. With the help of video calls, helpline numbers, texts, and phone calls, mental health care professionals were able to provide services while sitting at home.
Tele mental health has been receiving lots of attention and gaining popularity as a way to make mental health resources and services accessible to everyone. Tele mental Health is seen as a method or a tool to promote and raise awareness about mental health. Professionals and experts find it a useful tool and have been able to reach more population through Tele-mental health.
With new method and tool comes new challenges and problems. To make sure that Tele Mental health is safe and with proper guidelines. The American Psychological Association has developed guidelines for Telepsychology.
The APA defines, “Telepsychology as the provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies. Telecommunications is the preparation, transmission, communication, or related processing of information by electronic means.”
Telecommunication technologies include telephone, mobile devices, interactive videoconferencing, email, chat, text, and the Internet e.g., self-help websites, blogs, and social media. Multiple studies have found evidence for the effectiveness, implementation, and impact of Tele-Mental Health.
1. Expand Access
Telemental health puts mental health services within reach of people who live in rural or remote areas where counselors may be scarce. Telemental health practitioners also can provide services in correctional settings when the patient and clinician cannot be together.
2. Saves Time and Shorten Delays
This innovative counseling model eliminates a client’s need for transportation and travel-related costs. The client and counselor do not have to wait back at clinics or plan the entire day’s schedule around the sessions. Telemental health also can make it easier for patients to adjust and fit appointments into their schedules without having to take time off from work. Clinicians may find opportunities to increase their patient loads as practicing telemental health eliminates the need to commute to an office.
3. Lowers Stigma
One of the stigmas of mental health is that what society will think about me. Clients are concerned about what others will think about them if they saw or recognize them in the clinic. In such cases, telemental health is very helpful. The clients not only feel safe and secure that no one will recognize them and by being anonymous they keep their identity a secret and express their emotions more freely.
There are certain limitations to Telemental health as well. Receiving telemental health requires access to a device, an internet connection, and an understanding of technology.
Many legal issues have been foreseen by the mental health care professionals such as recording the consultation, blaming for poor service or for not asking appropriate questions, malingering, impersonation, lack of physical examination, confidentiality, and prescription of drug abuse are present in both during tele and in-person consultations. During an emergency or crisis, if there is a delay in response, it could have severe consequences.
Confidentiality is one of the most important clauses of therapy. Keeping the privacy of the client has become difficult with no proper laws, hacking and software apps having the access to personal information makes it very difficult on the part of the professionals and clients.
Online Therapy is not the best way for certain issues or mental health disorders. Mental Health disorders like substance abuse, schizophrenia, and depression are the cases in which to know the severity and judge the progress of the client it’s important to have offline therapy sessions rather than Telemental health.
Telemental health eliminates geographic restraints, making the enforcement of legal laws difficult. Therapists can treat clients from anywhere in the world, and many states have different licensing requirements and treatment guidelines. It is important to confirm your therapist’s qualifications and experience before you begin the treatment process.
Telemental health or Telepsychology is an emerging field to lower the stigma, improve the mental health situation of the country after the pandemic, and make mental health services accessible to everyone in the country. There are still lots of challenges that are being faced by the mental health care professionals such as no proper guide on how to take virtual therapy sessions, how to take assessments, and the laws to protect the professionals as well the privacy of the client.