Though the field of telemental health has been steadily growing, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has necessitated secure, video-based and HIPAA-compliant professional care now more than ever.
As we’ve adapted to a new normal that includes social distancing, and for some, isolation and self-quarantine, we’ve been presented with new challenges as professionals, patients and clients. Though web-based treatment had previously been used by the homebound, clients with immune deficiencies and those in rural areas, its scope has broadened considerably according to John Maxwell, Telehealth Director and Coordinator of Health and Human Services for New College Institute, which provides telemental health training.
“Telemental health is more important now than ever,” Maxwell says. “Our world is changing; we are not in a routine, we are operating outside of our normal, all of which adds stress, and when the best thing to do is to stay isolated, we experience these changes by ourselves. We all want to help, yet we feel helpless. Telemental health is a way to ease the changes we are all experiencing, and the glue that can hold us all together and keep our spirits up to get through this change and be stronger.”
Raymond Barrett, LHMC, LPC, and founder and CEO of Telehealth Certification Institute, agrees that the need for these services is great.
“Prior to now, when we provide trainings, clinicians and clients sometimes had concerns about whether it would be a good fit for the client, and clients typically only requested it if they were comfortable with technology. But right now, many clinicians and clients who had little interest in virtual sessions have no choice. On a global level, with quarantines, we all have to connect virtually, and telehealth is a really important service to provide.”
Maxwell is optimistic about the possibilities.
“Counselors all over our great nation are implementing and expanding telemental services to meet the need, to meet your needs,” he says. “We may be isolated physically, but we can still be connected virtually. This is a time to connect with your friends and family members who may be several states away, and to take this time to rebuild relationships that may have been lost. We can choose to make a difference for our mental health and for the mental health of others. This is our opportunity to take care of ourselves and to make a difference.”
The American Telehealth Association (ATA) will hold its 2020 Annual Conference, “Moving at the Speed of Innovation: Accelerating Telehealth Adoption,” virtually June 22-26. Visit their website for more information. In addition, The Teleheath Certification Institute is offering a virtual Telemental Health Preparedness Summit May 18-20. All NCCs and CCE credential holders will receive an email on April 20 offering a discount to register. More information can be found here.
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