What is Telehealth? Increasing Access to Mental Health Services
by Kat Rowe | February 15, 2022
1 in 5 Australian adults is living with a mental health condition. The Australian government has launched multiple programs, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), to help persons living with a mental health condition. However, the diagnosis, treatment, and management of mental health depend on several factors, including access to health services.
One of the ways to improve access to mental health services is Telehealth. This is the remote provision of health care services via digital tools, such as mobile devices. Here is what you need to know about Telehealth and its impact on mental health services.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of communication technologies and digital information to offer health services. Streaming media, the internet, and videoconferencing are some of the key Telehealth technologies.
Participants can use this system to send images and ask questions. Similarly, physicians can remotely monitor a participant’s condition and offer continuing medical education. This enables practitioners to reach people in regional areas, saves time, and reduces the cost of accessing health services.
Telehealth began in the 1960s when NASA wanted to monitor astronauts’ physical health remotely. Since then, the practice has spread to almost every sphere of the medical industry. Today, powerful broadband and networked programs can connect outlying clinics to the best facilities available.
Point-to-point audio and video connections create a convenient link between clinics and physicians. The result is that participants and physicians can communicate with ease through the internet or smartphone.
Using Telehealth for Mental Health Services
The COVID-19 pandemic overstretched Australia’s health care system. Persons living with mental health conditions were at risk of being ignored. As a result, several health providers, especially in the rural areas, started offering Telehealth services, such as:
- Hospital care: Mental health experts can diagnose mental health concerns via video teleconference.
- Integrated primary care: This is where participants receive primary care, such as physiological counselling, from the comfort of their homes.
- Mobile health: People who have symptoms of mental health challenges can use their mobile applications to track their symptoms and recovery.
- Case consultation: If a mental health professional doesn’t know how to handle specific cases, they can ask a psychiatrist in another hospital to remotely take over the Telehealth appointments.
Advantages of Telehealth
Using Telehealth to support mental health care has many advantages, such as:
- Convenience: People who have shown mental health symptoms can make Telehealth appointments from the comfort of their homes. They don’t need to travel or take sick leave.
- Wider reach: Qualified medical personnel are unavailable in all parts of the country. With Telehealth Australia, mental health care can be available to everyone who needs it, including those in rural areas.
- Fewer barriers: Some people may have been reluctant to go to a medical facility and get help. Now, they can receive the same services without leaving their homes.
Mental Health and the NDIS
People living with a mental health condition can seek assistance from the NDIS.
NDIS participants are now able to access experienced clinicians regardless of their location, and engage in Telehealth to support and manage their symptoms.
Stride have a number of clinicians with a variety of backgrounds including Psychology, Social Work, Counselling and Art Therapy, who can provide Telehealth wherever a participant is located within Australia.
Clinicians can support participants to achieve their NDIS Goals, which may include reducing anxiety, building confidence, managing emotions and improving social skills.
The NDIS has developed a range of methods to help participants, caregivers, and family members. It is important to define mental health and who is eligible for assistance.
For instance, caregivers should fill out the Evidence of Psychosocial Disability Form. Similarly, it helps to meet the set criteria, such as age, disability, and residency. It’s best to work with a qualified medical services provider to create an NDIS-supported treatment program.
Stride is an Australian mental health charity that offers mental health services to people of all ages in the country. Our main services include accommodation, therapeutic support, and support coordination. Contact Stride for more information.