What is Telemental Health?

Background

Rural and underserved communities often suffer from limited access to specialty mental health services. Provider organizations struggle to recruit and retain mental health specialists and often find it necessary to arrange for regular visits by a mental health consultant with considerable travel costs and limited on-site specialty clinician availability.
 
Non-mental health providers are often placed in the position of serving patients with severe mental health problems with little or no specialty support.

These factors reduce the quality of mental health services available to patients in rural and under-served communities, sometimes forcing patients to travel long distances to obtain mental health services, or forgo such services altogether.

Telemental Health is the provision of mental health services using live, interactive videoconferencing.

  • All mental health procedures that are delivered "face-to-face" can be delivered remotely via Telemental Health.


Telemental Health has a number of important benefits for patients, clinicians, provider organizations, and communities. The most important of these can be summarized succinctly:

  • Telemental health is a cost-effective way to improve access to specialty mental health services in rural and underserved communities.