Mental Health Services via telehealth

Psychologists & Therapists: Build a connection which endures.

Mental Health support can provide important insight into the challenges we face in our lives. The work of psychologists and mental health professionals is as varied as the clients they support. They may provide assessment and therapy to clients, help facilitate organisational or social change, conduct psychological research, or administer psychological tests to individuals or groups.

Just as the work is varied, so are the ways in which clients may interact with, and access mental health professionals. Telehealth services are now widely available and can be accessed from anywhere, providing an important link to mental health support which can endure across long distances or through lockdowns and restrictions.

From disruption to transformation.

The CoViD-19 Pandemic dramatically accelerated the uptake of Telehealth technology in Australia. A recently published report from the CSIRO found that in January 2020 just 0.3% of all mental health attendances were conducted over telehealth. A few short months later, in April 2020, more than 53% of all mental health attendance were conducted via telehealth.

As we move towards new ways of living with differing restrictions due to the ongoing threat of the virus, it’s clear that telehealth is here to stay. Around the country, clients are coming to expect that their trusted mental health services will be accessible online if and when required.

Telehealth is proving to be particularly useful when there is an existing relationship with a healthcare provider, and that trusted relationship can easily move online, or when the patient cannot normally access the specialist support they need in their location (e.g. remote and regional patients).

Choose a technology which meets your standards

Mental Health professionals need to choose a technology which aligns with their standards. The Australian Psychological Society has published the following recommendations:

The choice of videoconferencing technology should be guided by the following principles:

  • Providers take a client-centred approach to their choice of technology for use with telehealth 
  • Telehealth providers select and use videoconferencing technology that is fit for purpose 
  • Providers take reasonable steps to ensure the videoconferencing technology meets privacy obligations.

Put the client at the centre

As per the APS guidelines, the client’s needs should be considered in the choice of technology.

Inline with this, some the things to consider includes,

  • choosing a technology which is easy to use;
  • available in multiple languages;
    widely accessible from any device or browser (no need to download an application);
  • uses a low-bandwidth so that connectivity issues are minimised.

The recommendation is in: video is best

As per the Australian Government recommendations, video is the preferred method for a telehealth consultation. Video allows for a consultation which is much closer to a real-world meeting. As therapists know, communication is not always limited to what a client says.

When selecting a video consultation tool, look for the ability to offer diagnostic level resolution through low-bandwidth technology.

Trust is key

Choose a telehealth software provider that prioritises security. The Australian Government recommends that you choose a technology that meets Australian Privacy Laws.

Mass collaboration tools are designed to offer a one-to-many connection, meaning there are inherent risks that the connection could be joined by a third-party, with or without your knowledge. Whereas purpose-built telehealth technology is generally built as a point-to-point connection. This offers higher levels of security and privacy for both the therapist and client.

Support for the Therapist?

Another consideration when choosing a technology platform is what support is available. We know there are times when our technology lets us down. For the sake of our clients, we need these challenges to be resolved swiftly. Look for a vendor which is able to offer real-world technical support (not just a manual, but a human).

Telehealth: a tool for the future

We are hearing more and more about hybrid workplaces, and the same is true for health care. Around the country, and the globe, people will expect their lives to be a mix of online and face-to-face interactions. This will be true even in a world post-covid. Our clients will be accustomed to, and have an expectation for, an online option.

The early signs indicate that the ability to deliver mental health care both online and in-person will be a permanent consideration for Psychologists and Therapists into the future, underlining the importance of choosing a technology that will become an indispensable tool in your practice going forward.

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