Telebehavioral Health Care: Before the COVID-19 outbreak, telehealth services were growing, but now they are exploding. This includes using telehealth to provide clients with mental health care.
Consider Ginger, a company that offers on-demand mobile mental health support. According to Fierce Healthcare, usage rates hit their highest level ever recorded during the last week of September 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic rates, text-based mental health counseling increased 159% and virtual therapy and psychiatry increased by 302%.
First Telebehavioral Health Care Provide Safety
A behavioral health professional’s top two concerns about telehealth are typical: ”
- What will I do if someone tells me they are suicidal or homicidal?
- Or how would you react if it looked like you were having a psychotic episode?
The solution, according to Alexander, is to have a safety plan that outlines the steps the provider will take in uncomfortable circumstances, as well as the agreed-upon locations where sessions will take place.
No one should ever be surprised by the provider’s response to certain situations. The client should know, at the beginning of services, that if he experiences a mental health emergency in which he could harm himself or another person, I will call this person and this is the procedure we will follow.
By establishing this cooperation in advance, the client participates in the planning process and the subsequent steps will not surprise anyone. Basically, the informed consent process requires that level of preparation. Calling emergency services, conducting a social check at the customer’s home or connected location, or notifying the customer’s emergency contact are some examples of these actions.
Creating and Sustaining a Strong Relationship
According to this, the strength of the relationship between counselor and client, regardless of the treatment style used, is the best indicator of a positive outcome.
Therefore, it stands to reason that healthcare providers will naturally be concerned about their ability to establish and maintain a strong relationship with their consumers over the phone or video.
The conclusion of our research is that it is possible to develop these links. Although it takes some getting used to for both the practitioner and the client, we found that the relationship is consistently as strong as an in-person therapeutic relationship in the literature.
To avoid security and privacy issues, it is essential to follow the Health Insurance and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and informed consent rules.
According to Alexander, the informed consent form allows for constant contact between the client and their mental health professional. It describes the security measures that have been taken to protect client privacy in the context of telehealth and specifies the expectations and obligations of the client and the advisor.
All healthcare companies are required by HIPAA regulations to
- Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronically protected health information they create, receive, store, or transmit.
- Identify and protect against reasonably expected threats to the security or integrity of information.
- Protection against reasonably expected and unlawful uses or disclosures
- Make sure staff comply
Providers should ensure they use a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform that is equally effective for its purpose and secure channels for communicating protected data. Alexander said, that to avoid a data breach, these communications must be monitored. Confidentiality, security, and protection of confidential and protected health information are essential.
Concern about cultural diversity and socioeconomic issues should also be considered when using telebehavioral health.
Behavioral telehealth can expand access to mental health and substance abuse coverage, as well as other types of coverage for disenfranchised populations. We often see a lack of access in areas where communities of color have not traditionally had access to mental health and substance abuse professionals. With the use of telehealth, there are now equitable adjustments in healthcare that are happening across the board.
Of course, that is a good thing, but there are some cultural concerns that mental health professionals need to take into account when it comes to access.
Does the client have access to an electronic device and at least some internet data to conduct the sessions? Is there a safe environment in which the individuals can join in and participate fully? Professionals must understand that the availability of telebehavioral health results in an adjustment in equity of access.
In Telebehavioral Health Care: Conviction That It Will Work
The attitudes and beliefs of clients and professionals are essential to the effectiveness of telebehavioral health.
If the client and/or professional does not believe that telebehavioral health will be effective, then it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy situation, where it is not as effective or utilized to its full potential.
Behavioral health professionals should be aware that the perception by either party that ” this won’t work” can undermine the effectiveness of treatment.