JFS Perspectives

Monday, May 11, 2020

5 Benefits of Using Teletherapy for Mental Health Counseling



5 Benefits of Using Teletherapy for Mental Health Counseling

We often talk about how the internet has transformed the way we live and perform daily tasks. Whether it is having virtual doctors’ visits, watching shows, buying household goods, ordering prescriptions, or connecting with friends and family, the internet has made all these activities super convenient and easily accessible.

Mental health services are no exception! Telehealth services have made it even simpler to receive the mental health counseling needed through the use of digital technology. Teletherapy (also known as telehealth counseling) is especially helpful to clients that don’t have the ability to visit with their mental health counselor in person.

Let’s take a deeper dive into what teletherapy is and how it can help manage mental health issues. As one of the reputed mental health service providers in Denver, Jewish Family Service is here to help individuals of all ages understand the benefits of online counseling.

What Is Teletherapy?

Teletherapy refers to mental health counseling services offered online or over the phone. Mental health counselors have begun to offer teletherapy to enable long-distance therapeutic and healthcare services.

To use teletherapy, clients only need a phone, tablet, or computer. Examples of a teletherapy session are:

  • A phone call
  • Online chats
  • Email exchanges
  • Video conferencing

With the use of devices, most people already have access to, getting online therapy can be easy! Advancements in technology have helped both mental health care providers and their clients overcome barriers that previously kept many individuals from providing or seeking treatment.

Advantages of Teletherapy

Teletherapy services have many great advantages over traditional mental health counseling services. There are even instances, such as during a pandemic, when the benefits of online counseling outweigh the benefits of traditional counseling. Teletherapy is beneficial in the following ways:

  1. Enables More Convenient and Easily Accessible Mental Health Care

    One of the largest advantages of teletherapy is increased accessibility for all clients. Whether a client has a busy schedule, limited mobility, no mode of transportation, or lives in a rural area, they can still receive mental health care without much hassle.

    Teletherapy has been especially convenient for individuals observing the stay-at-home orders for the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients have been able to continue their treatment from home without the worry of interruption.

  2. Reduces Shortage of Mental Health Services

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults lives with mental illness (or roughly 46.6 million people as of 2017). Of those individuals, less than half received mental health services, for one reason or another.

    A common issue seen in the mental health industry is a lack of healthcare providers. In a report by the National Council of Behavioral Health, it was found that there is a national shortage of mental health providers in 77% of U.S. counties. In a traditional setting, fewer healthcare providers would translate to fewer appointment slots available to clients.

    Teletherapy, on the other hand, helps connect licensed mental health professionals with clients in need of treatment, despite where he/she lives. So long as the client is within the state of the licensed professional, they could live hundreds of miles away and still receive treatment, where they otherwise might not have had any local options.

  3. Upholds Client Privacy and Improves Comfort

    Another reason less than half the individuals suffering from mental health illnesses might not seek treatment is due to the stigma surrounding mental health. It can be assumed that many people might fear being seen entering or leaving their therapist’s office.

    With teletherapy, however, the need to visit a physical office location is eliminated. Clients can attend therapy sessions from the privacy and comfort of their own home by calling or video conferencing with their therapist.

    Being in a familiar environment has its own perks too! If a client feels safe and comfortable, they’ll be more inclined to open up about their anxiety, depression, or other related issues, thereby improving their overall treatment.

  4. Helps Augment Overall Health Quality

    Addressing mental health concerns can positively impact a client’s overall health. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” By this definition, we can assume that without mental health, one cannot be truly healthy.

    One study available on the CDC website found mental illnesses, such as depressive disorders, are directly associated with an increase in chronic diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. This is just one example of many where mental health plays a vital role in overall well-being.

    Telehealth services also facilitate practitioner collaboration for a more accurate diagnosis. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, telehealth services enabled rural clinicians to acquire new expertise and provide evidence-based healthcare to their communities by consulting with specialists in major cities. In fact, they reported telehealth services successfully helping New York State primary care professionals provide mental health treatment to elderly patients in rural areas.

  5. Enhances Patient and Provider Satisfaction

    Telehealth makes it easier for patients to stay healthy and receive care for their specific conditions more consistently. They can enjoy benefits such as convenience, flexibility, and real-time care from their providers.

    At the same time, it can be challenging and stressful for healthcare providers to fulfill the needs of each patient and retain them. Telehealth can increase job satisfaction by accelerating and simplifying the process of attending to more patients. Therapists and counselors can use telehealth to balance their work and family life with ease.

Conclusion

Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress can have an adverse impact on mental health, especially in times of widespread isolation and uncertainty, like what has been experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teletherapy is at the forefront of the medical community and if used appropriately it can be extremely beneficial for both clients and providers. At Jewish Family Service, clients are able to connect with mental health counselors using their phone, tablet, or computer to chat or video-conference with ease.

Call 720.248.4701 or email centralintake@jewishfamilyservice.org to get started today!

– Stacey Weisberg, LPC, mental health director, Jewish Family Service


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