Telepsychiatry - From a Dream to Reality in Bangladesh
The governments of Low and Middle Income Countries are struggling with poverty, political instability, social inequality and inadequate health care facilities. Mental health services never get adequate attention to overcome all of these priority issues. These countries are stressed with a wide mental health treatment gap and there is no sign of adequate initiatives to minimise this gap. However, Information Communication Technologies (ICT) sectors show explosive growth. The landscape of ICT in the health sector is expanding every day. Most developing countries have no national mental health data base or electronic health record. With the help of ICT countries can collect real time data, and record the data from mobile devices in a cost effective manner. The problem of lack of trained mental health professionals, wide geographic area coverage and the large number of patients can be overcome by using telepsychiatry services. People can contact a psychiatrist or psychologist from their mobile phone whenever they need help. It removes the cost of travelling, the need to wait for an appointment and avoids the fear of being stigmatised as being mentally ill. Electronic algorithm based diagnostic systems provide professional expertise and can assist poorly trained personnel in primary care settings. Millions of people can be contacted at a time using Short Message Service (SMS), Interactive voice response (IVR) and video clips. This can be used to reduce the stigma and improve treatment adherence, two important obstacles in mental health service in low income counties. Social Networking Sites like Facebook have opened new horizons for understanding mental health conditions and providing interventions. Friendsourcing is interesting area to for mental health. All these aspect can transform mental health in Low and Middle Income Countries with their available resources.
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