The 5 big benefits of telemental health
There’s no question, telemental health is changing the way mental health services are delivered. Research has consistently proven its effectiveness in treating a vast array of mental health disorders with a variety of populations. But so have face-to-face mental health services.
Telemental health offers a number of advantages that traditional, in-person therapy delivery may not. And, these advantages can benefit both the client and the clinician.
One of the most-often cited reasons for not seeking mental health care is poor accessibility.1 This lack of accessibility may be due to a client’s geographical distance, a lack of appropriate providers in a particular region or even a client’s inability to leave the home for some reason.
Being able to provide telemental health services can help alleviate the shortage of clinicians in a particular area. Clients can have access to more options.
With telemental health, geographical distance or location becomes far less of an issue. With relative ease, a client and clinician can connect electronically. Suddenly, the miles between them become a non-issue.
We live in a busy world and not everyone who wants therapy can fit appointments into a snug 9-5 schedule. Job responsibilities, families, drive time to and from appointments and other time constraints can sometimes limit how and when someone is available.
Clinicians struggle with this issue as well. Offering appointment times that work for you and for your prospective clients can sometimes feel impossible. It can be frustrating and overwhelming. You want to help but you too have personal responsibilities to balance.
Clients and clinicians want flexibility to schedule appointments on a schedule that fits their respective needs. Telemental health allows clinicians to set a realistic, flexible schedule that increases their availability.1 Clients can choose a clinician who offers availability at times that meet their needs.
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Telemental health is convenient and let’s be honest, we all like convenience. Clients can access help when they want to, how they want to and choose a clinician who can meet those requirements. And, they can access help from wherever they are. Traveling or being home with a sick child used to mean a cancelled appointment for sure. Now, clients can arrange to see their therapist no matter what life tosses in the mix. With the internet being available almost anywhere now, being able to access help when and where you want it has never been easier. And, the growing population of tech savvy clients demands it.
For some clients, fear of seeking mental health help and the associated stigma is very real. They may fear others finding out they’re seeking help.2 Other clients may have issues with leaving their home or feeling safe in an office setting. Being able to engage in therapy in the comfort of their home or other secure space can eliminate these barriers.
Engaging online is comfortable for many people. People are increasingly turning to the internet for their emotional and psychological needs so the idea of seeking help online is becoming more mainstream. Surveys have found that almost 80% of Americans use the internet to see mental health information.3 Telemental health fits right in with the practices people already engage in.
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Telemental health can reduce costs for you and for your client.
Missed appointments, repeated cancellations and unfilled appointment slots can be frustrating for clinicians. The missed appointment and the follow-up time you spend on it costs money. If you charge a fee for missed sessions, it costs the client money. Missing work to attend an appointment or driving an extended distance costs the client money.
By offering appointments that accommodate the needs of their clients at times that work with their schedules and location mean fewer last minute no shows and cancellations. Instead of a client last-minute cancelling because they’re stuck across town, you might offer a telemental health session later in the evening. That’s a win for both you and your client.
Offering telemental health as an option gives clinicians an additional way to fill some of those chronically unfilled appointment times. Think about it, a client may not have time to drive to your office on their lunch hour, have an appointment and get back on time. But, they might be able to have a telesession with you on their lunch break. You get a client who might otherwise have passed on you due to scheduling issues. Your client gets the help they are seeking.
As the telemental health field continues to grow, clinicians and clients will find seeking help is becoming easier than ever. Clients will be able to see clinicians in ways that feel safe and fit their lifestyles. Clinicians will be able to help clients previously out of reach and have a rich, thriving practice. And that benefits everyone.
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1. Langarizadeh, M., Tabatabaei, M. S., Tavakol, K., Naghipour, M., Rostami, A., & Moghbeli, F. (2017). Telemental health care, an effective alternative to conventional mental care: a systematic review. Acta informatica medica: AIM: journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina: casopis Drustva za medicinsku informatiku BiH, 25(4), 240-246.
2. Saeed, S. A., Diamond, J., & Bloch, R. M. (2011). Use of telepsychiatry to improve care for people with mental illness in rural North Carolina. North Caroline Medical Journal, 72(3), 219-222.
3. Elkin N. How America searches: Health and wellness. Opinion Research Corporation: iCrossing; 2008. pp. 1–17.