top of page
Search

The rising popularity of tele-counselling and e-mental health. Boon or bane?

Updated: Jan 7, 2022



Date: 03/01/22

Author Name: Lavanya Kaushal Qualifications: B.A. (Hons) Psychology, M.A. Applied Psychology (specialization in clinical psychology) Designation: Consultant Psychologist, ACRO Mental Health Services.

Word count: 554

Reading time: 5 minutes

Reviewed by: Aishwarya Krishna Priya




This pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have led to an increased demand for mental health services, as evidenced by Rajkumar who found that anxiety and depression, as well as increased stress have become more common among the general population ever since the lockdown started (1).


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a need to shift businesses to an alternate medium.


In this era of social distancing and working from home, tele-counselling and tele-psychiatric services have become more prominent, keeping in mind various stressors like fear of getting COVID and infecting others, loss of employment, emotional isolation, among other issues (2).


The pros

E-mental health services serve as excellent alternatives for face-to-face sessions, with significant reduction in travel time and effort required to go for consultation. Clients can seek help from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, it may even serve as beneficial to some clients who may not want to seek help due to fear of stigma related to mental health, which explains why the percentage of Indians who experience mental health issues is severely underreported (3).


E- mental health services offer great convenience to clients as well as practitioners.


The cons

However, it is not that such services come with no issues or concerns of their own. In a study done by Hawdon and Ryan, it was found that after a traumatic incident, those who received face-to-face care and interactions reported significantly better well being than those who received the same via virtual mediums like video calls or emails, mainly because of the lack of actual human presence (4). Likewise, clients may experience a sense of remoteness and a lack of connection via a remote medium, which can potentially harm the therapeutic relationship. However, more recent evidence suggests that the effectiveness of these mediums is actually a function of the client’s personality, and whether the therapist is able to use supportive techniques effectively, than the medium of interaction itself (5).


Tele mental health practice may create a sense of isolation and disconnection.


The next issue is with monitoring behaviour via such mediums. An in-person session with the doctor or psychologist allows the practitioner to look at other cues, such as body language and reading the room, to understand the client more accurately (6). The lack of these cues means that such services can be misused and may give an opportunity for the client to hide some crucial information (7).


Dealing with emergency situations also becomes challenging. For instance, working with clients who are suicidal or suffering from trauma is especially risky, since it is likely that the client may switch off their phones or internet, leaving the practitioner being unable to intervene. This may also have legal implications for the practitioner if necessary measures are not taken (such as a detailed and stringent informed consent) before commencing a session (8).



It is difficult to intervene in cases of clients who might have urgent and severe concerns.


Finally, the use of these services with special populations like the elderly (who are often not acquainted with using these technologies), children and people with developmental disorders (who might find it challenging to adapt to the screen either due to a short attention span or cognitive deficits) must be done with careful consideration (7).


Conclusion

Therefore, whether or not e-mental health services are useful ultimately boils down to the comfort of the practitioner and the client. Like offline sessions, it provides significant advantages in practice but major disadvantages too. However, as long as a decision is made with the parties discretion, e-mental health can potently support client well-being. Discuss with your mental health service provider to see what suits you the best.




Audio-Visual Credits

1. Local Business Closed during the Coronavirus Covid-19 Quarantine, Photo by Anastasiaa Chepinska, Unsplash.


2. Person sitting on a Couch holding a Surface Device, Photo by Surface, Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/8HPLpr3hebU


3. Woman in Black Long Sleeve Shirt using Macbook, Photo by Magnet.me, Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/LDcC7aCWVlo


4. Person holding White Printer Paper, Photo by Sydney Sims, Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/fZ2hMpHIrbI



REFERENCES

[1] Rajkumar, R. P. (2020). COVID-19 and mental health: A review of the existing literature. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 52, 1-22.


[2] Pfefferbaum, B., & North, C. S. (2020). Mental Health and the Covid-19 Pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 1-2.


[3] Gaiha, S. M., Salisbury, T. T., Koschorke, M., Raman, U., & Petticrew, M. (2020). Stigma associated with mental health problems among young people in India: a systematic review of magnitude, manifestations and recommendations. BMC Psychiatry, 19(6), 338-346.


[4] Hawdon, J., & Ryan, J. (2012). Well-being after the Virginia Tech mass murder: The relative effectiveness of face-to-face and virtual interactions in providing support to survivors. Traumatology, 18(4), 3-12.


[5] Dolev-Amit, T., Leibovich, L., & Zilcha, M. S. (2020). Repairing alliance ruptures using supportive techniques in telepsychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 1-14.


[6] Gladding, S. T., & Batra, P. (2007). Counseling : A Comprehensive Profession. New Delhi: Pearson.


[7] De Sousa, A., Shrivastava, A., & Shah, B. (2020). Telepsychiatry and Telepsychotherapy: Critical Issues Faced by Indian Patients and Psychiatrists. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 1-8.


[8] Martin, A. C. (2013). Legal, clinical, and ethical issues in teletherapy. In J. S. Scharff, Psychoanalysis Online- Mental Health, Teletherapy and Training (pp. 75-84). London: Karnac Books.

DISCLAIMER


Although the articles published on our website are not scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles, we aim to provide readers with authentic information on mental health and the daily problems of the 21st century. All content specifically caters to the South Asian population living in India and other countries. We do give references to other population groups and ethnicities but do not discriminate against any individual or group.


You would notice that some of the articles are not monologues but academic-style essays that would cite scholarly articles. Additionally, our content is for all age groups to read. If we have articles that require parental advisory, we will put up a cautionary statement before accessing our content.


The above information has been written by a qualified mental health professional or journalist. It has been reviewed by a panel of experienced, qualified, skilled and trained news editors, journalists and mental health professionals. All precautionary measures have been taken to ensure that these articles are not just casual write-ups from youngsters. This is an informal method of sharing important information on the web. One must seek the positive side of the articles shared on our website.


We also understand that not everyone will be happy to read our information or have qualms about the use of our language. However, we can assure you that our intentions are not to hurt anyone. Moreover, if you have any valuable feedback that you would like to share as a member of the audience or avid readers of our blog posts, please write back to us at info@mentalhealthservicesacro.com.

All articles are purely for information and educational purposes only. Please remember that everything we share is to promote positivity, but not everything shared on our website may work in your favour. All tips and tricks to tackle your issues may have negative outcomes, so please be mindful when you try something on your own without proper guidance or professional supervision. If you happen to be facing a mental health issue or disorder, we request you to seek professional help from the nearest mental health service provider available in your city.


We, the authors or publishers, do not claim responsibility for any harm caused to viewers due to our choice of words or published posts. Furthermore, we will vehemently disregard any abusive language or comments shared by some readers for any given reason and take necessary steps to curb such uncivil behaviours.


COPYRIGHT INFORMATION AND INFRINGEMENT


All contents of the website, blog posts, main texts, captions, and ideas are the intellectual property of ACRO Menta Health Services and individual writers. We have taken special care in trying to reference all our work to avoid plagiarism or online trolls. We have used references of audio-visual content that does not infringe anyone’s IP and nor belong to us in some cases, but have given due credit to every individual and site that we referred to before writing our articles. Any unauthorised copying, publishing, or circulation of this content is illegal and will be subject to legal consequences as per the jurisdiction of the Indian Copyright Act.


50 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page