Monday December 11, 2023

Telehealth proves to be 'greatly effective' in mental health improvement

With more than 800,000 suicide deaths worldwide each year, mental health is a topic that requires a lot of attention

By Web Desk
January 03, 2023
A Woman Sitting on Chair in Front of Table With a Doctor On Call.— Pexels
A Woman Sitting on Chair in Front of Table With a Doctor On Call.— Pexels

With more than 800,000 suicide deaths worldwide each year, mental health is a topic that requires a lot of attention. According to a recent study, telemedicine mental health services can significantly help those in need and even lower suicide risks.

Research findings

Our lives revolve around our mental health, which is why maintaining it is equally as crucial as maintaining physical health. You visit your doctor's office when you're feeling unwell and have your blood drawn once a year. The same is true for mental health. 

Contrary to popular assumption, telehealth is successful when it comes to providing mental health care, according to the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Patients who received telehealth care were 4.3 times less likely to consider suicide in the research. This is important news because telehealth has been shown to improve mental health, which is important given the epidemic and the increased number of individuals staying home. 

The study's principal investigator, Dr Mimi Winsberg of Brightside Health, offered her perspective on telehealth and mental health to Health News.

"The study was large scale including participants of diverse geography and social demographics," the outlet quoted her as saying.

More than 8,500 people who completed an online intake on the Brightside platform participated in the study. The online platform provided psychiatric care to 8,366 of the users, while the remaining 215 chose not to receive it and instead tracked their symptoms. 

The telemedicine psychiatric treatment lasted for 12 weeks and included video chats, messaging, and psychiatrist-prescribed medication. The online technology from Brightside used their measurements, such as clinical presentation, medical history, and demographics, to look into depression and anxiety. A "computerised symptom cluster analysis" is used by the platform to give patients precise instructions and clinical care.

The study discovered that after 12 weeks of therapy, patients using Brightside Health's telemedicine platform had fewer suicidal thoughts. 

In comparison to the control group of patients who were observed on the platform but did not receive therapy, patients who received treatment through Brightside Health were also 4.3 times more likely to experience a remission of their suicidal ideation. The outcomes showed that a clinical decision-supporting telehealth platform was a successful intervention for the symptom of suicidal thoughts.

"In addition, we found that suicidal ideation had higher correlations with cognitive symptoms of hopelessness and poor feelings of self-worth than with the physical symptoms of depression such as disrupted sleep and low energy," continued Winsberg.

What is telehealth?

The technique of receiving medical treatment without visiting a physical doctor's office is referred to as telehealth, also known as telemedicine. It could incorporate voice calls, messaging, or video chat. Usually, a tablet, computer, or phone is used for this. With the pandemic and lockdown, when many people stayed at home to avoid COVID-19, telehealth has grown in popularity. 

Those who cannot attend in-person office visits or even those who want to continue seeing their primary care physician after moving can benefit from telehealth. Telehealth can cover a wide range of topics, including physical treatment, the flu, and mental health.

The study found that although telehealth is not typically used for mental health, especially with more severe symptoms, it can in fact help with symptoms and offer effective therapies to people who are struggling with mental health issues. Using cutting-edge technologies to properly support patients, such as remote patient monitoring and clinical decision support, is what telehealth is.

Patient symptom lists can be pursued, outcomes can be measured through measurement-based treatment, and genuine assistance and interventions can be given without physical travel. Receiving help online is a terrific alternative for many people across the world because not everyone has the opportunity to physically travel to a therapist or psychiatrist.