If you told someone 30 years ago that you could receive mental health care over a computer, they might write it off as something you read in a sci-fi novel. Times have changed, and now many people walk around with what is essentially a mini super-computer in their pockets. With the internet, it’s never been easier to get information about anything. This has helped many people today learn about topics related to mental health care. Having easy access to this information has helped greatly in reducing stigma. It also has encouraged many people to understand their mental health and seek help when needed.
The medical field had already started to make use of computers in providing care in the form of telehealth. This is where you can speak with a doctor over the phone or on a video call. Telehealth was revolutionary in allowing specialists to see more patients and provide care for those with transportation issues. Digital treatment existed in the mental health care field, but it wasn’t as commonly available. That all changed when Covid-19 hit, which forced many mental health care treatment facilities to embrace digital healthcare.
Why Digital Mental Health Care Became So Important
When the US and much of the world went into lockdown, that led to social distancing. As a result, many places were temporarily shut down, and that included many mental health treatment facilities. People need mental health care regardless of whether a pandemic is happening or not. Treatment centers then began to work on ways to make the digital age work for them. For the mental health care field, this involved using telepsychiatry, which allows someone to speak with their treatment provider while staying in the comfort of their homes.
Besides the risk of Covid, it became apparent that people may need digital mental health care for other reasons. Some common reasons besides social distancing are:
Accessibility: Some people may live far away from any mental health treatment facilities. Others may not have reliable transportation that can get them to appointments. A person may have a disability preventing them from being able to comfortably leave their homes and travel to appointments. Digital mental health care lets them get the care they need regardless of where they live or their physical state.
Time: Those that are constantly busy or work in high-paced environments, such as first responders, may not have time to sit and wait for conventional appointments. This is especially true if they are on call, and may have to leave at any time. By utilizing digital mental health care, they can receive treatment from their phone or computer wherever is convenient.
Comfort: Sometimes, a person may refuse treatment because they are too afraid to leave their homes. Those with some types of anxiety may be too nervous to meet in person. Giving people options can help build confidence, and help them understand that they are in charge of their treatment.
Types of Digital Mental Health Care
There are three main types of digital treatment available to clients. Remember, not every treatment center will use every single type of digital care. It’s important to contact your local treatment facilities and ask them which types they use. Emailing, though a form of digital communication, is not used in treatment. They are instead used to set up appointments and answer questions.
The three main types of digital mental health care are:
Chat: Some treatment facilities will utilize a chat feature on their websites for their clients. This is an option mainly used by those who are hearing or speaking impaired. Sometimes it is also used for those who have phone or video anxiety so they can be comfortable when receiving care. Some websites for mental health care facilities will have chat features where potential clients can ask quick questions. If they offer a chat feature as part of treatment, it will be done through an official chat program.
Video: This is the most common form of telepsychiatry and involves speaking with a treatment provider through a video call. These types of calls are versatile enough that some treatment providers, such as Acera Health, can offer special programs like SMART Recovery through Zoom. It offers a safe way for support groups to meet without the need for social distancing. Often these video calls are done through an official telehealth program. They can also be done through other video call apps like Zoom.
Phone: If face-to-face meetings are not required, sometimes a treatment provider will call their client. This doesn’t always have to be done over a smartphone or landline. Sometimes this can be done on a computer using a dedicated call app, such as Skype, or using an official telehealth program.
Deciding if Digital or In-Person Treatment Is Right for You
If you have a mental health disorder, it’s important to speak with a mental health care professional about which treatment options are the best for you. Some types of treatment, such as psychotherapy, can be easily done digitally if needed. However, some physical treatments, such as neurofeedback therapy, must be done in person and cannot be done over the phone or via video call.
Some people are more comfortable doing in-person meetings. Not everyone has the privacy they need in a home to feel comfortable using digital mental health care. However, if you prefer to receive care through the use of a video call, phone call, or chat program, let your treatment provider know. You will never be judged or ridiculed for letting your preferences known. Just be aware that some types of digital mental health care may not be available in your treatment facility.
Regardless, it’s important to seek help should you need it. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, contact your local mental health care facility right away.
The digital age has brought many wonders to our daily lives. One such wonder is the convenience of reaching whomever you wish with just the touch of a button. This has allowed many people in need of help to quickly and efficiently get the help they need. Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we make sure to be available and accessible to anyone who needs help. Getting help for your mental health disorder or illness is as quick and easy as making a phone call. Everyone deserves professional and compassionate care, including yourself and those whom you love. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, don’t delay; call (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.