The Impact of Telemedicine on Mental Health
3.5 billion people all around the world do not have access to basic healthcare. There are multiple reasons for this. The most apparent of these reasons is the fact that healthcare is expensive and for many people, inaccessible. Which is why the new wave of technological advancements have proven to be very beneficial for humanity in general. One such advancement is Telemedicine.
What is Telemedicine
Telemedicine is the process of remotely caring for patients via technology and communication. Patients are now able to get in touch with doctors who they normally would not have access to with the help of telephonic or video conversations. Doctors assess the patients remotely, try to help them with the help of patient explanations and visuals, and then provide them with prescriptions and advice.
This new up and coming advancement has helped many people all around the world who either do not have the time or the resources to get first-class medical treatment. People who live in developing or third world countries such as those in Africa and Asia can now get referred to leading doctors who operate in Europe and the United States. Telemedicine has allowed female doctors, who are unable to practice their degrees after marriage, to still earn a stable source of income from the comfort of their homes. This advancement in technology has proven that even service professions can to an extent, work from home.
Telemedicine for mental health
Mental health problems come with their own set of issues. There is still stigma and taboo attached to this topic and field of medicine. Therefore, people are usually not willing to make the long drive to a therapist’s office for hour-long sessions. Some people are even afraid of running into people they know and getting recognized as someone who has mental health problems in the process.
Since doctors in this field generally do not need to physically examine the patient, they can reach a successful diagnosis with the help of a video or even telephonic conversation. Telemedicine for mental health has provided those suffering in silence with an outlet to solve their issues and be at peace. Therefore, telemedicine especially in the field of mental health has proven to be especially advantageous.
Patients get in touch with doctors by booking an appointment via a clinic’s website or a phone call. They get assigned a doctor either randomly or according to their needs. The doctors then get in touch with patients through a telephone or video conversation. Some clinics have their own portals for making these calls so patients do not even have to share their sensitive data such as phone numbers or emails if they do not feel like it.
Sessions usually happen on a weekly basis over a course of 45 minutes to one hour. The doctor would first take the patient history, assess the issue at hand, and then with help of the information that the patient provides combined with professional judgment the doctor will be able to reach a diagnosis.
Then moving forward the patient can continue to see the doctor or request for a change. However, one should take a few sessions with a therapist to assess whether they are comfortable with the entire process or not. Some clinics have multiple therapists at hand and can facilitate a change very easily with little to no issues. Even payment in this process can be done remotely via a bank transfer, therefore, one doesn’t have to physically visit the doctor or the clinic ever.
Now patients living in rural areas or college students who do not have the time or resources to attend physical sessions have the opportunity and the ability to get therapy. Some people even attend sessions during their work commute or in passing.
Telemedicine for Mental Health During COVID 19
Telemedicine has proven to be especially helpful during the COVID 19 crisis. In a world where face to face conversation is frowned upon in case one does not spread the virus further. Hospitals and clinics have also become hotspots for spreading the virus as that is where the disease tends to be nowadays. Therefore, it is not advisable for people to travel long distances or visit hospitals for therapy, at risk of endangering themselves or their loved ones.
In order to tackle this need for healthcare during these unprecedented times, telemedicine is the answer. People need to be able to get the help and the therapy that they need and they should be able to avail these facilities anywhere and everywhere. Moreover, this pandemic has been hard on everyone. With the loss of lives and the increase in salary cut-offs and redundancies, even the sheer amount of uncertainty is enough to make someone anxious. Therefore, we need mental health therapy now, more than ever. Telemedicine will help us progress as a healthy functioning society, and help us get through this pandemic as a group.
Human society has progressed via the need for understanding and tackling issues and problems of our day and age. The issue we have at hand right now is a society that is sick. Both physically and mentally, therefore, telemedicine is our solution. It will provide us with the resources that we need to attain a higher standard of living. Therefore, anyone who feels that they need to reach out to a medical professional should do so.
Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.