Role of Telehealth in Treating Mental Health Issues

Key Takeaways

  • Mental health therapy costs around $100 to $200 per session, excluding travel expenses, medication, and time invested in the therapy sessions. With telehealth, patients just have to pay for therapy sessions and medicine.
  • According to a survey, respondents said that using telehealth is more convenient compared to in-patient visits. They said that it is easier to seek health whenever needed.
  • Telehealth offers a range of mental health services such as group therapy, individual sessions, addiction counseling, e-prescriptions, medication monitoring, and much more.

According to a survey, from March to August 2021, there were 39 percent of telehealth outpatient visits for mental health and substance use diagnosis, compared to 24 percent in February 2020.

The rise in mental health visits via telehealth is due to several aspects. The top ones are pandemic, social distancing, lockdown, economic crisis, and substance use. More about the usage of telehealth for mental health is discussed in this blog.

Benefits of Using Telehealth for Mental Health

1. Cost-Effective

Mental health therapy costs around $100 to $200 per session, excluding travel expenses, medication, and time invested in the therapy sessions. However, with telehealth, the cost of mental health drastically decreases. It not only saves time of travel and long waiting hours, but it also cuts out the money needed for transport. So, patients just have to pay for the therapy sessions and nothing else. Further, it is easier to claim insurance via telehealth services and doctors can get their fees reimbursed quickly as well.

2. Accessibility and Convenience

According to a survey, respondents said that using telehealth is more convenient compared to in-patient visits. They said that it is easier to seek health whenever needed. Mental health patients can reach out to telehealth services at any point of the day or night. They can schedule an online appointment via the telehealth application. Patients can book slots as per their routine. These aspects make telehealth convenient to use.

Since patients can access telehealth at any time, the chances of missed or canceled appointments also decrease. Providers can benefit from this as they no longer have to suffer the losses of incoming patients and maintain a steady income flow. They can reach out to mentally ill patients from various parts of the state via telehealth and offer their services.

3. Quality of Care

A study published in the JAMA Network cited that telemedicine scored higher on 13 of 16 HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) measures. The top five domains of primary care included cardiovascular, diabetes, prevention and wellness, behavioral health, and pulmonary.

The adoption of telehealth/telemedicine for behavioral or mental health is due to the continuity of care, which is provided by telehealth application. Patients have the luxury to connect with their therapist at any time of day regarding their concerns over mental health issues. This speeds up the recovery process.

Mental Health Services Offered via Telehealth

1. Individual Therapy

Individual therapy sessions are completely private, unlike group therapies where multiple people know what you’re going through. Therapists and patients connect via HIPAA-compliant video conferencing feature in telehealth for individual sessions. Telehealth offers flexible scheduling, so patients and therapists can arrange a common time as per their schedule. Also, several patients feel comfortable talking one-on-one, rather than in a group.

2. Text Therapy

Chatbots and messaging features of telehealth are used for text therapy. There’s an unlimited text messaging feature as well. Therapists can begin by answering queries at any point of the day or limit to only business hours. Additionally, patients can seek live text sessions with their therapist to discuss mental health issues in one go.

3. Group Therapy

Types of group therapies conducted via telehealth include skill development, interpersonal process groups, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducational, and support groups. Patients can gather on a common platform via telehealth to discuss their mental health collectively. It provides an opportunity to give and receive support.

4. Medication Prescribing

E-prescribing prevents medication errors in the ambulatory setting, which otherwise can be caused due to illegible handwriting. It also reminds patients about refills. Patients can ask for home delivery in case he/she is bedridden.

5. Addiction Counseling

Several addicts have a mental stigma about seeking treatment in a public setting. Telehealth allows addicts to get treatment without venturing outside or visiting a facility. Further, addicts also suffer from anxiety and depression which is the common underlying reason for addiction. Telehealth for mental health helps in treating anxiety, depression, and addiction. Patients just have to connect with a therapist who is an expert in this field. It can be done through telehealth applications.

6. Medication-Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often paired with behavioral and counseling therapies. It is effective for the treatment of opioid use disorders and helps people to sustain the recovery process. With telehealth in the picture, MAT can be used more efficiently as telehealth allows therapists to constantly stay in touch with their patients via chats or video calls.

7. Mental Health Screening

Mental health screening helps to catch health conditions at early stages. It involves a series of processes. With telehealth, people can complete the initial stages that involve answering a set of questions about mood, feelings, sleep, etc. A mental health therapist can help with the initial screening process via telehealth. The next stage requires an in-person visit as it involves blood tests and physical examinations. However, a patient can revert to telehealth treatment once the screening phases are done.

8. Medication Monitoring

Therapeutic drug monitoring is essential for mental health patients as it assures that they don’t overdose themselves or cut out their medication completely. Medication monitoring is crucial for bipolar and depression patients as medicine for these disorders causes a negative effect. RMP (Remote Patient Monitoring) integrated telehealth is used for medication monitoring. Patients can use a portable micro-sampling device to collect blood and send it to their therapist or lab for analysis. Blood testing helps to determine drug concentration in the body.

9. Anxiety and Depression Monitoring

Medical devices or wearables embedded with remote sensing functions such as sleep patterns, mood activity, and exercise are useful in tracking anxiety and depression. Wearables and medical devices can be linked to telehealth applications, so therapists can check data sensors and analyze patients’ behavior.

To get a customized telehealth application for treating mental health issues, get in touch with Arkenea, a healthcare software development company. With over 12 years of experience in the field, our team of experts delivers cutting-edge telehealth and telemedicine application to our clients. We also provide white label telemedicine solutions to further augment our client experience and services.