Technologies such as videoconferencing, the Internet, and others have the potential to provide better mental health information, more efficient and affordable mental health services, and more chances for the prevention of mental health illnesses. With regard to preferred modes of communication, technology has evolved over time from being a barrier because of technical issues to a facilitator (Boydell et al., 2010). The variety and adaptability of online applications guarantee that technology can be employed to successfully and creatively provide mental health services, with minimal variations between online and in-person delivery (Richards, 2009; Spence et al., 2008, 2011).
The technologies that are most frequently used are videoconferencing and Internet applications. Less articles are written about using CD-ROM, email, mobile phone applications, and the phone.
Different Terms Used in Technology When Providing Health Services
Both e- and m-healthcare refer to the usage of modern devices like monitoring or smartphones, giving people healthcare. This has many applications. Most commonly, it’s used to improve access to mental health care and services. However, they can also increase the chances of adhering to a treatment plan. Beyond that, these terms hope to establish a cultural shift in how mental health is taken care of. Making the experience more accessible and giving patients more control over their choices and availability.
Telemedicine, also known as care involves using information and communication technologies to provide or support medical treatment from a distance. Like any other technology, telemedicine too has its merits and demerits. The concept of delivering healthcare to patients remotely has been around, for a while. In the past methods such as smoke signals and light reflection were used to transmit information like event notifications, births, deaths, and outbreaks of diseases. Over time advancements such, as the printing press, telephone, and Internet have significantly improved medical information sharing and telemedicine capabilities.
- Telehealth refers to the category of healthcare provided through virtual and telecommunication technologies when there is a physical distance, between patients and healthcare providers (WHO, 2018).
- Telehealth services encompass healthcare activities, including medical services, provider meetings, medical education and continuous training.
- • Extensive research has explored the impact of telehealth models on healthcare interventions (Coutney et al., 2009; Donker et al., 2013; Forchuk et al., 2015).
- Telehealth involves the use of information and communications technology by professionals to exchange data, for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illnesses and injuries.
- By enhancing efficiency telehealth has the potential to address challenges currently faced by healthcare.
- Teletherapy, also known as virtual therapy or online counseling, encompasses various forms of remote mental health services.
- The term teletherapy specifically refers to talk therapy and other therapeutic interventions provided through digital platforms.
- Online counseling services within the realm of teletherapy encompass different modalities such as videoconferencing sessions with therapists, chat-based counseling via apps or websites, and phone-based therapy options.
Advantages of Teletherapy
1. An Optimal Option for Remote Regions and Enhanced Accessibility:
Individuals residing in secluded or countryside areas can access mental health services through online therapy, thereby resolving the scarcity of mental health care options prevalent in such locales. Online therapy ensures heightened accessibility for individuals confined to their residences or grappling with disabilities. To illustrate, a therapist operating from home may lack the necessary resources to cater to people across various proficiency levels.
For those unable to venture outside due to diverse circumstances like physical ailments or psychological disorders, online therapy serves as an invaluable alternative to traditional face-to-face psychotherapy settings.
2. Cost-effectiveness and Pragmatism:
Teletherapy enables therapists to offer more economical treatment alternatives that are within reach for many individuals seeking assistance. E-therapy allows people the flexibility of scheduling sessions according to their convenience and obligations-be it work-related commitments, familial responsibilities, or solitary moments at home
Limitations and Difficulties with Teletherapy
Abrupt Stops, Technological issues, and Little acknowledgment:
Depending on where a patient logs into a session, such as at home or in a public place, it might be unavoidable for them to deal with some distractions during teletherapy. For example; deliveries, employees who are within the vicinity of you, cars, children, animals, and so on. The peaceable position from which to convey may sometimes present challenges. Since not everyone may possess a laptop or a fast enough internet connection, this may be valid. Other impediments include problems with the site, power failures, and intermittent internet connections. Therapists could also lack some additional knowledge on the way someone sits, is dressed, or just the hygiene of a client which one will get if they meet a person in person. In addition, they are not able to deal with unexpected disasters that may occur during the caregiving process as efficiently.
Obstacles to Providing Mental Health Services via Technology
- According to Christensen et al. (2011), there are a number of obstacles preventing young people from using Internet applications, such as the challenge of getting them involved in the program and clinician concerns about safety, efficacy, and value.
- Potential risks associated with chat rooms and online environments include the potential for adults to become attracted to them and prey on impressionable teenagers (Webb, Burns, & Collin, 2008).
- Compared to in-person treatment or assessment, online treatment or assessment carries a higher risk of misinterpretation (Gerrits, van der Zanden, Visseher, & Conijn, 2007; Steenhuis et al., 2009).
- In one study, participants reported feeling that the program was impersonal, that they couldn’t express their feelings to a computer, or that they didn’t feel motivated to use a computer during stressful or crisis situations. On the other hand, they also mentioned that they appreciated the program’s flexibility and support and that they used it as a stepping stone to more intensive treatment (Pretorius et al., 2010).
- Additional possible issues include the loss of observational and nonverbal cues that are part of in-person work (Roy & Gillett, 2008). Additionally, phone plans, usage, and ownership by specific clients place restrictions on the technology.
- Additional possible issues include the loss of observational and nonverbal cues that are part of in-person work (Roy & Gillett, 2008).
While technology benefits many, cutting-edge telehealth solutions, transforming healthcare globally, remain critical. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps yet unveiled opportunities. Studies show telehealth offers mental health care from anywhere via devices, yet uneven access persists.
This article aims to engage and fascinate readers on these topics.
Books Recommendation for Teletherapy:
- Is Teletherapy For Me?
- Navigating Telehealth for Speech and Language Therapists
- The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris