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 |  2022-12-22

Telemental Health Explained: The Future of Mental Health Services

Telemental health provides many benefits to mental health practices and patients. It removes barriers to care, reduces costs for providers and patients, and enables long-term continuity of care. Are you ready to incorporate telehealth into your practice? Read below.
Telemental Health Services

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a monumental shift in the way the world views mental health, with the global prevalence of depression and anxiety increasing by a massive 25%. As a result, many people began to prioritize mental health in all aspects of their lives. However, it became nearly impossible for patients to meet with mental health providers due to social distancing and lockdown mandates. Telemental health revolutionized the healthcare industry as a result, quickly becoming an indispensable method of providing mental health services.

As the world recovers from the ravaging physical and mental effects of the pandemic and patients shift to consumers, telehealth services remain a primary choice for treatment. Therefore, physicians and mental health providers across the world must incorporate telemental health into their care models to keep up with the rapidly changing healthcare market. 

So what is telemental health? We'll answer that question in depth in this article. We'll also consider its benefits, challenges, and impact on public health.

What Exactly Is Telemental Health?

Telemental health — also known as online therapy, telebehavioral healthcare, telepsychology, or telepsychiatry — is a subset of telemedicine that uses videoconferencing technology or telecommunications to provide mental health services or behavioral healthcare remotely.

Common Mental Health Disorders Treated

Individuals no longer have to go to a physical location to receive treatment. Mental health professionals such as social workers and mental health counselors use phone calls, email, online chat, or video conferencing to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Disruptive behavior disorders, such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder
  • Personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder and drug addiction
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
Telemental Health
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Telemental Healthcare Use Cases

Telemental health providers use telemental health platforms to provide a variety of behavioral health services, including:

  • Individual teletherapy: When mental health providers use digital and online mental health tools to provide one-on-one therapy to patients remotely.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A form of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying dysfunctional thoughts, behaviors, and emotions through solution-based care and positive encouragement. 
  • Group teletherapy: A form of therapy where a group of patients meets together on a videoconferencing platform to discuss issues and challenges under the supervision of a therapist or counselor.
  • Marriage counseling: A form of psychotherapy for married couples where the couple attends a session together and a marriage counselor helps them identify and solve problems in their relationship.
  • Guided self-help: A form of therapy for people with mild forms of anxiety or depression that involves working through a computer course while the therapist supports the patients through telebehavioral appointments.
  • Telemental health interventions: A systematic therapeutic approach to treating patients whose mental health conditions or addictions disrupt their daily lives or potentially cause self-harm. Therapists repeatedly meet with patients via videoconferencing or phone calls to coach them and provide them with ways to regain control of their life.

There are many other use cases for telemental health services, including pastoral counseling, emotion-focused therapy, coaching, interpersonal therapy, and more.

Let’s explore the possibilities together.

Tryten is ready and willing to help with your project, big or small, and our wide variety of platforms can support your medical & technology devices, telehealth expansion, or overhauls and more. Let us use our guidance to support you today.

The Benefits of Virtualizing Mental Health Treatment

Patients Have Convenient Access to Telemental Health Services

One of the most appreciated benefits of telemental health is that it provides convenient patient access. Traditional mental health treatment involves inconvenient trips, and patients may spend substantial time and money to receive services. They may have to take time off work and coordinate transportation and/or child care or elder care. 

Telemental health services remove all the potential financial, location, and logistical barriers to mental health treatment. Patients can schedule appointments at more flexible hours and with less advance notice. 

Telemental health is especially beneficial for patients who have chronic illnesses or disabilities or live in rural communities. They may have limited access to in-person mental health treatment. They can receive the behavioral healthcare they need without leaving the comfort of their homes through telemental healthcare.

Telemental Health

It Relieves the Stigma Around Mental Illnesses

There has been public stigma and self-stigma surrounding mental illnesses for hundreds of years. Public stigma involves discriminatory or negative attitudes that society has about mental illness, while self-stigma involves a person's embarrassment, shame, avoidance, and fear surrounding their own mental illness.

According to Mental Health America, 56% of adults with a mental illness don't receive treatment, amounting to over 27 million untreated individuals. The most persistent barrier to mental health treatment is the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Telemental health relieves the stigma around mental illnesses. Patients no longer have to go to public facilities that broadcast that they need mental health services. They can receive mental health treatment in the privacy of their homes, which eases anxiety and promotes treatment acceptance.

It Allows for the Continuity of Care

Telemental health contributes to the continuity of care in the mental health field. It's much easier for patients to connect with the same provider for their appointments since they have greater flexibility and control over their schedules. 

It's also much easier for telemental health providers to check in with patients in between sessions to ensure they are maintaining their progress, maintaining a constant stream of care that improves patient outcomes.

It's Cost-Effective

Mental health services can be costly for patients, especially in rural communities with insufficient access to mental healthcare providers. Using telehealth allows them to receive high-quality, modern, efficient treatment that is cost-effective at home.

Automating expensive evaluation methods — such as image and behavior analysis, biosignal evaluation, speech and language disorder analysis, and acoustic knowledge — is also much more cost-effective than traditional manual evaluation methods. 

You also no longer have to worry about missed or canceled appointments that eat away at your profits. You can reschedule at more convenient times or fill empty slots more easily thanks to the scheduling flexibility of telemental health.

Online Therapy Sessions Are More Comfortable for Some People

Some people may be more comfortable receiving telemental health counseling virtually rather than in person. They may be uncomfortable leaving their home or feel unsafe in an office environment. Many people also are used to engaging with others online.

Engaging in therapy from their own home or preferred space can remove these barriers.

Challenges That Telemental Health Presents

It's clear that telemental health offers a host of benefits for individuals needing virtual mental health services. However, there are also a few challenges that telemental health presents.

Home Isn't Always a Private, Safe Place

Unfortunately, home isn't always a safe, private place for telemental health sessions. In-person care at facilities and practices allows patients to complete sessions in a secure location away from unwanted parties.

There may be a higher chance of other family members overhearing sessions at home, making patients hesitant to share sensitive personal information with mental health providers. There are also cameras in virtual online platforms and in users' homes that may pose privacy considerations. Finally, there is a chance that someone could hack into a network or device during access sessions and eavesdrop or record them.

Thankfully, the risk of these scenarios occurring is lessening as videoconferencing platforms continue to evolve. Most providers can use secure platforms that don't allow recording. Many platforms also include confidentiality, verification, and security features to remain HIPAA compliant and prevent possible security breaches like hacking.

Access to or Understanding of Video Technology May Be an Issue

Some patients may not have access to video technology. They may lack a stable internet connection, depending on where they live. Some may not have internet at all for various reasons.

Technology is constantly evolving, and with that comes the work and cost of updating platforms, networks, and equipment. Thus, some patients' technology may be too old to support telemental health platforms. They may also not have videoconferencing devices or phones.

Older patients especially may not understand how to operate video technology, which limits their ability to attend telemental health sessions.

As discussed above, telemental health technology is always advancing. You can conduct sessions easily just with a phone connection. Some platforms are also available online, so patients may be able to find a secure location with an internet connection to have their sessions.

Telemental Health's Impact on Public Health

Telemental health makes a substantial and positive impact on public mental health in several ways:

  • Increased access to mental healthcare for medically underserved populations
  • Tailored mental health services for individuals and communities
  • Improved provider-patient relationships
  • Enhanced patient education about mental health
  • Improved quality of life and interpersonal relationships

Make Mental Healthcare More Accessible With Telehealth Carts

Telemental health provides many benefits to mental health practices and patients. It removes barriers to care, reduces costs for providers and patients, and enables long-term continuity of care.

Are you ready to incorporate telehealth into your practice? Using outdated technology can bog down your workflows and make providing quality care difficult. 

You can make telemental healthcare more accessible and streamlined with telehealth carts from Tryten Technologies. We provide durable, high-quality telehealth carts with secure, updated technology to make incorporating telemedicine services into your practice easy. Check out our telehealth carts today to see how they can make telemental health a viable reality for your practice.

Avi Sharma
Avi Sharma
Content & Marketing Specialist