Telepsychiatry: Unmute, Hear and Heal

Published on October 28, 2021 by

Telepsychiatry goes up by 325 percent from 2018 to 2020 by providing access to the patient to meet with their psychiatrists without barriers.

Bengaluru: Research by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences found people accessing telepsychiatry has increased by 325 percent in India from 2018 to 2020. Telepsychiatry refers to a patient connecting with a psychiatrist using technology like phone calls or video conferencing.

The World Health Organization found that around 7.5 percent of the Indian population suffers from mental illness. One of the most prominent reasons is lack of proper monitoring. But the sessions that telepsychiatists provide to their patients is making things easier. A person can get in touch with an established psychiatrist from any part of India without the spending any travel expenses.

Nivedita Unni, a person who is using telepsychiatry for health monitoring said, “The fear of getting Covid led me towards telepsychiatry. It saves time and makes me comfortable. I am at a much better state now.”

Patients who need psychiatric evaluation and non-emergency help use telepsychiatry more often. Although it cannot be advocated for emergency or hyper suicidal cases that need constant supervision or intervention.

In 2007, the telemedicine initiative of NIMHANS added telepsychiatry to their list of services. But the year 2020, showed a dramatic hike in the number of patients opting for telepsychiatry due to isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the government telemedicine portal e-Sanjeevani recorded 23 lakh patient-to-doctor telecare sessions in Karnataka.

To ensure the privacy of the patient, the Government of India introduced Telepsychiatry Operational Guidelines 2020, to curb the exploitation of personal information of the patient recorded in the sessions. It also mandates license for the psychiatrist who conduct telepsychiatry.

Dr C. Naveen Kumar, specialist of telepsychiatry in the Department of Psychology, NIMHANS, said, “There are studies to show the satisfaction of patients is nearly the same between in-person consultation and telepsychiatry consultation. Telepsychiatry has given us potential.” Looking forward to the development in future he added, “We are looking forward to intervene patient with hyper mental disorder in few years.”

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