What is Telemental Health?

shh_headshot-smallBy Susan Herman

Telemental health (TMH) is the use of telecommunication technologies to provide behavioral health services such as assessment, education, treatment, counseling and consultation. It refers both to live, real-time interactions as well as data sharing via asynchronous communication.

Over the phone and video teleconferencing systems, clinicians can provide care for most, if not all, the same conditions they treat in the office. Having a distance care option can increase access and decrease costs for consumers. However, telemental health can present certain logistical and safety complications. According to David Luxton, Eve-Lynn Nelson, and Marlene Maheu in their new book A Practitioner’s Guide to Telemental Health, complications can arise in regard to:

  • establishing informed consent
  • adapting intake and assessment protocols for the long-distance environment
  • involving emergency or support services, if necessary, at the client’s location
  • handling emotionally charged conversations when the client can easily power off their device, or when there might be another person in the room out of the clinician’s view

Asynchronous communication in TMH can include messaging technologies such as text or email—say, to ask follow-up questions or to check in on how well a patient is following a prescribed routine.

Software, apps, and peripheral devices for self-care and remote monitoring are also proliferating in the marketplace. These tools are broadly referred to as eHealth, or mHealth when deployed via mobile devices such as cell phones or wearables. They can be useful adjuncts to care, but cannot be used to diagnose mental health problems.

telemental-healthSome eHealth technologies provide alerts to prompt care providers to check in, similar to blood glucose monitoring systems for diabetics. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (2016), “Such apps might use the device’s built-in sensors to collect information on a user’s typical behavior patterns. If the app detects a change in behavior, it may provide a signal that help is needed before a crisis occurs.”

Apps and wearable devices may include various coaching functions, self-monitoring, journaling, and/or stimuli (music, imagery) for help with:

  • Anxiety and stress management
  • Breathing and heart rate
  • Challenging thoughts
  • Recording moods
  • Activity, sleep, food intake
  • Meditation and mindfulness

Though it can be difficult to keep pace with innovation, providers and consumers alike should evaluate all telemental health tools carefully to make sure their data stays secure, and that actually using the technology doesn’t introduce more complications.

For a complete list of practice and ethical standards and guidelines in telehealth, including information on provider reimbursement for TMH and legal/policy issues, click here.

References

Luxton, D. D., Nelson, E., & Maheu, M. M. (2016). A Practitioner’s Guide to Telemental Health: How to Conduct Legal, Ethical, and Evidence-Based Telepractice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

National Institutes of Mental Health (2016). Technology and the Future of Mental Health Treatment. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/technology-and-the-future-of-mental-health-treatment/index.shtml

 

June Releases From APA Books!

handbook clinical psychAPA Handbook of Clinical Psychology

Volume 1: Roots and Branches; Volume 2: Theory and Research; Volume 3: Applications and Methods; Volume 4: Psychopathology and Health; Volume 5: Education and Profession

Editors-in-Chief John C. Norcross, Gary R. VandenBos, and Donald K. Freedheim

The 5-volume APA Handbook of Clinical Psychology reflects the state-of-the-art in clinical psychology science, practice, research, and training. The Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of:  the history of clinical psychology, specialties and settings, theoretical and research approaches, assessment, treatment and prevention, psychological disorders, health and relational disorders, health promotion, educational paths, psychologists’ development, ethics and standards, professional organizations, and future directions of clinical psychology.

 

telemental health A Practitioner’s Guide to Telemental Health

How to Conduct Legal, Ethical, and Evidence-Based Telepractice

by David D. Luxton, Eve-Lynn Nelson, and Marlene M. Maheu

When providing telehealth services, physical distance can create ethical and safety challenges. Such challenges are manageable when following the best practices outlined in this book, which illustrates how to conduct mental health services via videoconferencing and other technologies.

 

 

 

 

bilingualism across lifespanBilingualism Across the Lifespan

Factors Moderating Language Proficiency

Edited by Elena Nicoladis and Simona Montanari

copublished by APA Books and De Gruyter Mouton

This book pioneers the study of bilingualism across the lifespan and in all its diverse forms. In framing the newest research within a lifespan perspective, the editors highlight the importance of considering an individual’s age in researching how bilingualism affects language acquisition and cognitive development.  This book is a call for language researchers, psychologists, and educators to pursue a better understanding of bilingualism in our increasingly global society.

 

 

women with disabilitiesEliminating Inequities for Women with Disabilities

An Agenda for Health and Wellness

Edited by Shari E. Miles-Cohen and Caroline Signore

Contributors to this book examine the widespread barriers that prevent women with disabilities from accessing effective health care, and offer plans for action to improve wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention among this broad yet underserved population.

 

 

 

 

evidence-based treatment ethnic minoritiesEvidence-Based Psychological Practice With Ethnic Minorities

Culturally Informed Research and Clinical Strategies

Edited by Nolan Zane, Guillermo Bernal, and Frederick T.L. Leong

 

This book suggests strategies for promoting and strengthening research on evidence-based psychological practice with ethnic minority clients and highlights effective and culturally competent treatment programs.

 

 

 

 

interviewing childrenInterviewing Children

The Science of Conversation in Forensic Contexts

by Debra Ann Poole

In this book, Debra Ann Poole presents a flexible, evidence-based approach to interviewing children that reduces the ambiguities and errors in children’s responses. Through her descriptions of best practices, brief summaries of supporting research, and example interview dialogs, Poole provides a roadmap for anyone working in a forensic context. This book is essential reading for those who interview children, supervise interviewers, review interview findings, or craft local policies about interviewing children.

 

 

womanist & mujeristaWomanist and Mujerista Psychologies

Voices of Fire, Acts of Courage

Edited by Thema Bryant-Davis and Lillian Comas-Díaz

This inspiring book introduces the psychologies of womanists and mujeristas—African American women and Latinas, respectively, who have a broad and inclusive approach to feminism and liberation. Womanist and mujerista values and worldviews emphasize resiliency, strength, activism, self-expression, creativity, spirituality/connection, self-definition, and liberation of all oppressed people.