How is Telepsychiatry impacting the mental healthcare?

According to WHO, nearly two-thirds of mental illness patients goes untreated, mostly because of the social stigma associated with it. Most cases worsen due to the lack of timely intervention and awareness. Video based psychiatry or Telepsychiatry have been instrumental in yielding better results in cases of handling patients with mental illness.

What is Telepsychiatry ?

Telepsychiatry is the application of Telemedicine to the specialty field of psychiatry. The term typically describes the delivery of psychiatric assessment and care through telecommunications technology, usually videoconferencing (Wikipedia).

The utilization of video conferencing in psychiatry began during the 1950s. In 1959 the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute used video conferencing to provide group therapy, long-term therapy and medical students’ training to Nebraska State Hospital. It is equivalent to in-person care in regards to diagnosis, treatment accuracy and patient satisfaction.(Psychiatry.org)

Benefits of video based psychiatry

Easier Communication- Patient’s suffering from metal ailments tend to open up more from their comfort zone, their home. Paying physical visits to a psychiatrist often makes the patient and his peers uncomfortable. They fear of being discriminated,judged or being isolated looms large. Telepsychiatry offers them the required discretion allowing them the opportunity to speak free, driving better diagnosis and quick recovery.

More organized follow-up routines – People suffering from mental illness needs to follow up regularly. Connecting with the Psychiatrist virtually encourages better and efficient follow-up routines, keeping aside the transit stress.

Training for the caregivers – Attending patients with mental disorder is a tough ask. Specially trained caregivers are required to monitor and tend to their needs. However, the number of such trained caregivers are often limited or not readily available. In such cases the patient’s family member’s can be virtually trained to handle them.

Widespread reach for psychiatric care– In a populous country like India, there is always a scarcity of good health professional, especially in the psychiatric field. The rural scenarios are even worst. Rural patient’s with mental ailments like Alzheimer Schizophrenia, Dementia or even depression can find easy access to specialized mental care through video based psychiatry.

Lesser hospital stay – Treating mental illness requires a lot of monitoring and might require prolong hospital stay. Remote monitoring and follow-ups through video reduces the hospital stay considerably.

Most prominent beneficiaries of Telepsychiatry

The competence of Telepsychiatry has been prominently visible in fields of child psychiatry, depression, dementia,schizophrenia, suicide prevention, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),panic disorders, addictions and substance abuse. Discussed further are most distinctive recipients of the benefits of Telepsychiatry.

Children, adolescent and older adults

Children and young adults with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, addiction and autism respond well when interacted through video conferencing. Adolescence with addiction or depression issues, generally prefer to way-off from the local psychiatrists or therapists from their own community. Telepsychiatry has proved to be highly effective in handling similar scenarios. Even, the school-based heath care programs can have higher access to virtual mental health care for at-risk adolescence with impulsive behaviour disorder.Telepsychiatry has excessive efficacy for the elderly mass, especially for those having cognitive impairment, visual/hearing disorder and mobility depravities.

Military personnel and war veterans 

Military personnel and war veterans often suffer from traumatic disorders due to their extended association with war and violence. They suffer from post traumatic stress that sometimes results to problems like insomnia, nightmares, emotional numbness and recursive headaches. Prolonged PSTD may make them suicidal. Regular counseling sessions through Telepsychiatry,even when they are posted off-base or at home, is instrumental in reducing the impact of trauma. This also de-burdens the on-board doctors who are already pre-occupied.

Inmates and under-trails

Telepsychiatry has been integrated into the present correction process for evaluating the mental health of inmates and under-trials. This helps in identifying the potential patients with mental ailments who can benefit from pre-trial assessment. Moreover, it is cost-effective, time-saving, safe and discreet compared to the in-person meeting.

The Telepsychiatry is displaying promises as an easy-to-access alternative of the prevalent but grossly scarce psychiatry. The data based on the epidemiological studies from across the world confirms the fact that Telepsychiatry has the potential to solve enormous and intertwined problems in regards to mental ailment.

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