Telepsychiatry for Transforming Mental Health Scenario
Low and Middle Income Countries are struggling with poverty, political instability and inadequate healthcare facilities. Mental health hardly gets adequate attention and is relegated by other priority issues. The countries are stressed with a wide mental health treatment gap without any sign of adequate initiatives to minimise this gap. However, Information Communication Technologies (ICT) have shown promise in this regard. With the help ICT the problem of lack of trained mental health professionals, wide geographic area coverage and huge number of patients can be overcome. People can contact a psychiatrist or psychologist from their mobile phone whenever they need help. It removes the cost of travelling, overcomes the need to wait for an appointment and by-passes the fear of being identified as mentally ill during a visit to the psychiatrist. Millions of people can be addressed at a time using Short Message Service (SMS), Interactive voice response (IVR) and video clips. All these can reduce the stigma of mental health and can 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. All these initiatives indicate the potential of telepsychiatry to transform the tragic mental health scenario in Low and Middle Income Countries.
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