Telehealth or telemedicine has been slowly but surely penetrating the traditional healthcare system thanks to the many benefits that it brings for everyone involved. Mental health is a fundamental issue, and unfortunately, across the U.S. there’s been a reported shortage of mental health therapists.
The lack of enough specialists who deal with substance abuse treatment has been continually increasing the severity of the opioid addiction epidemic for instance, and this has been happening in rural areas lately.
Everything points to one single conclusion: there are more and more patients who do not have access to healthcare when they need it the most. Some patients might also be avoiding treatment due to strong fears of social stigmatization.
The solutions coming from telemedicine in this particular case are amazing because the benefits for patients are undebatable.
A revolution in the mental health field
There are many psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists that are adopting the innovations brought by the telehealth in order to gain more access to more patients and offer them various solutions to their health issues remotely.
There have been a few so-called downsides that kept the traditional healthcare system from completely adopting telemedicine, and one of them is the inability to perform physical consultations. But fortunately, for a mental health exam, this is not necessarily required.
Creating strong emotional connections
Even if the consultation is remote, therapists can build a strong and emotional relationship with their patients. Sometimes, patients have even more confidence, and they feel more relaxed while being treated remotely. In other words, they prefer to receive mental health care virtually rather than via in-office visits.
Here are the main benefits of telemedicine for mental health:
Addressing the shortage of mental healthcare therapists
As we already said, the lack of mental healthcare experts is a huge problem especially in the U.S. but all over the world in general. Everyone understood the importance of mental health and with the help of telemedicine more experts can reach much more extended geographic regions to treat more patients.
Mental healthcare services, more accessible and convenient for patients
Another highly significant advantage of telemedicine is accessibility for patients who have to stay at home due to various reasons such as being mobile-challenged, living in rural, remote areas, lacking transportation and more. All these patients need is an Internet connection and they can benefit from getting remote treatment.
Avoiding the feeling of stigmatization
It’s true that currently there’s a broader acceptance of mental health treatments by the communities, but the stigma is still a problem for the ones involved. Telemedicine cannot directly eliminate the feeling of stigmatization, but it can help by making the patient feel more private, secure and protected in the intimacy of their home while getting treatment.
Morphing the landscape of substance addiction
As we said at the beginning of the article, there’s a worrying rise of the opioid addiction epidemic, and that’s the main reason for which the need for improvement in the addiction treatments has also been intensifying. These problems are seen more in the rural areas lately and via telemedicine patients can be easier treated remotely.
There are a lot telehealth facilities such as BetterHelp and other platforms that can provide a whole new and high level of professionalism these days.
Telehealthcare boasts so many benefits for therapists and patients that it will definitely disrupt the traditional healthcare space. Let’s hope this happens sooner rather than later.
Bo has over six years experience as a teacher, advocate and speaker. He has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in Human rights from Harvard University Graduate School.