Benefits of Telehealth and Tele-Mental Health

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Telehealth is the use of telephones and\or videoconferencing technology to provide health care services, including mental health care. Tele-mental health is sometimes referred to as telepsychiatry or telepsychology. Research suggests that tele-mental health services can be effective for many people, including those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

Telehealth and Tele-mental health can make a difference in the care and treatment of individuals that are unable to travel due to illness, who are unable to drive, or cannot afford to travel to see specialists or their primary care doctor. Having access to preventative healthcare as well as care during an illness can improve the health of individuals and allow them to stay in their homes instead of a long-term care facility.

Having the ability to access a reliable broadband provider is an essential component of accessing healthcare and mental health services virtually. Broadband connectivity should be affordable and reliable so all individuals can access services such as Telehealth and Tele-mental health.

Let’s explore some of the benefits and drawbacks of using telehealth and tele-mental health, as well as some tips on how to find a provider and prepare for a virtual visit.

Benefits of Telehealth and Tele-mental Health:

  • Convenience: You don’t have to travel to see your provider, which can save you time, money, and hassle. You can also schedule appointments with less notice and at more flexible hours.
  • Broader reach: You can access providers who may not be available in your area, especially if you live in a remote or rural location. You can also receive care in emergency situations or when you need immediate support.
  • Fewer barriers: You may feel more comfortable and less stigmatized seeking mental health care through a screen than in person. You may also find it easier to open up and share your feelings with a provider who is not physically present.
  • Advances in technology: As telehealth and tele-mental health services have increased, providers have become more familiar with the technology and platforms they use. Some providers have switched to entirely virtual practices, which can offer more consistency and continuity of care.

Disadvantages of Telehealth and Tele-mental Health:

  • Access to technology: You need a reliable internet connection and a device that can support audio and video. You may also need to download specific software or apps to use the service.
  • Quality issues: The quality of the audio and video may vary depending on your device, connection, and platform. Poor quality can affect how well you can communicate with your provider and how satisfied you are with the service.
  • Cost: You may need to invest in new or updated equipment, platforms, or networks to use telehealth and tele-mental health services. You may also have to pay out-of-pocket fees if your insurance does not cover the service or if you use an out-of-network provider.
  • Privacy: You need to ensure that your device, connection, and platform are secure and that no one else can access or overhear your sessions. You may also feel less comfortable sharing personal information with a provider who is not physically present.
  • Insurance coverage: The policies and regulations regarding telehealth and tele-mental health services vary from state to state and from insurer to insurer. You need to check with your provider and your insurance company before using the service to make sure it is covered and what the requirements are.

Telehealth and Tele-mental health service can provide a great advantage to you in your personal care and well-being. Being able to visit with your primary care provider, specialists, or mental health professional remotely can give you access that is more convenient for you, does not require travel to their office, and can give you a greater level of privacy by being able to receive services in your home. Using telehealth and tele-mental health does require broadband access to have full audio and video visits with your healthcare provider as well as a device capable of video conferencing. Cost and insurance coverage also need to be considered when deciding to use Telehealth and tele-mental health services.

Additional reading and information:

Why use telehealth? |

What are different types of telehealth? |

How do I pay for telehealth? |

What can be treated through telehealth? |

How do I protect my data and privacy? |

Follow Lear, Joe K.:

Consultant for Broadband Initiatives, University of Missouri System Office of Engagement. Former Extension Regional Director in NW Missouri. Twenty years in the Information Technology field in Missouri and Kansas.