Telehealth’s ups and downs for mental health care

29 Jul 2020

It may have taken a global pandemic to get telehealth services covered by Medicare for the whole Australian population, but now that it’s here, experts say it could transform approaches to health care, especially mental health care.

In April 2020, there were 5.8 million telehealth consultations; just over 90 per cent of these were via telephone and 9.3 per cent were via video conference.

“Mental health is particularly amenable to telehealth because it does not require a physical examination,” says Associate Professor Liam Caffery, Director of Telehealth Technology at the Centre for Online Health at the University of Queensland. “There is a lot of evidence of effectiveness of telehealth using video conferencing in a broad range of psychiatric and mental health care services.

“In terms of mental health, some patients find it less confronting and less stigmatising than in-person services, and it allows them greater discretion in accessing services.”

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