Telepsychiatry: Improving Mental Health Possibilities

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INTRODUCTION It is widely recognized that mental illness affects a significant proportion of the population; however, it is complicated to determine exact numbers. This problem can be attributed to such issues as the changing definitions of mental illness as well as difficulties in classifying, diagnosing, and reporting mental disorders. Limitations to adequate mental health services including social stigma, cultural incompatibility between patients and providers, language barriers, lack of insurance and logistical barriers. In addition, significant differences in socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviors, and access to care have resulted in health disparities between rural and urban communities (Institute of Medicine, 2004). According to Sulzbacher et al., many families who live in rural areas do not have the financial, social or psychological resources, to travel to distant urban centers to obtain adequate care particularly for a chronic mental health problem. There is also evidence to suggest that mental illness in rural areas is as nearly as high as among people in metropolitan areas. However, the accessibility of mental health services and professionals in rural areas is extremely low compared to major cities and metropolitan areas. Such barriers can impede the diagnosing, treating and reporting of mental illnesses and have also been instrumental in developing and improving telepsychiatry and e-mental health models. Telepsychiatry Telepsychiatry has been used for many years and is highly regarded as an area where the use of telemedicine has been successful. It has been defined as “The delivery of healthcare and the exchange of healthcare information for purposes of providing psychiatric services across distances” (Woo... ... middle of paper ... ...7). Diagnostic reliability of telepsychiatry in American Indian veterans. American Journal of Psychiatry, Shore, J. H., Hilty, D. M., & Yellowlees, P. M. (2007). Emergency management guidelines for telepsychiatry. General Hospital Psychiatry, 29, 199–206. Shore, J. H., Savin, D., Novins, D., & Manson, S. M. (2006). Cultural aspects of telepsychiatry. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 12, 116–121. Starling, J., & Foley, S. (2006). From pilot to permanent service: Ten years of pediatric telepsychiatry. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 12, S80–S82. Sulzbacher, S., Vallin, T., & Waetzig, E. Z. (2006). Telepsychiatry improves paediatric behavioural health care in rural communities. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 12, 285-288. Wootten R., Yellowless P. & McLaren P. (2003) Telepsychiatry and E-Mental Health. Royal Society of Medical Press Ltd, London.

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