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Jennifer Highland

The advantages of online therapy

The advantages of online therapy are several, from closing the gap between a shortage of qualified mental health professionals in an area, to reaching out people who live in rural areas, far away from a clinic. Additionally, online therapy can also reach people who have very busy schedules and can’t spare the commute, or  those are not too comfortable with face to face appointments.

That being said, online therapy increases the opportunity to reach out to people that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

More personalised treatment

Telehealth and mHealth solutions are a tools that can be used to personalise the treatment of individuals with a mental illness. Based on the individual, you can select the tools and features  a person could find useful, such as pushing clinical questionnaires on their smartphones, answering electronic self-assessments, accesing psychoeducation, scheduling video sessions or teaching them self-care.

Furthermore, since the use of eHealth itself can help individuals to access psycho-education online, this means more time spent on  face-to-face or online sessions.

Patient empowerment

Mental health professionals offer their patients therapy and counselling, however, without the person’s motivation to get better and hard work therapy may not be enough. Digital tools are designed to keep individuals motivated and have a more active role in their treatment, which tends to produce better results.

Nevertheless, digital tools are not only about motivating, they also help with patient empowerment since they track a person’s behaviour over time, so they can take credit for their progress over time.

Teaches self-care

Therapists offer the best therapy and guidance they can, unfortunately they cannot always be there to help; therefore, individuals need to learn to face their problems alone. By providing these individuals with an mHealth solution, they have access to valuable information that can be useful if their symptoms appear, and write down any comments on how they felt, so clinicians and individuals can review the situation together.

Helps people who otherwise wouldn’t receive any treatment

Many people who need mental health treatment have to wait endlessly to get an appointment, if they manage to get any treatment at all, however, the demand for mental health services is on the rise.

This problem cannot be easily solved, and even though online psychoeducation, smartphone-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or smartphone-based Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) may not be as efficient as therapy with a mental health specialist, it might be a great alternative for individuals to get started on a self-care plan while they meet with a specialist, and for some people, this may even be the only alternative.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization,  recently said “We must find ways to make sure that access to mental health services becomes a reality for all men, women and children, wherever they live.”