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Online Mental Health Treatment

Online Mental Health Treatment

Advances in technology have vastly changed the way we get things done. From earning a degree to ordering a pizza, we’re able to use online access for increased efficiency in nearly every aspect of our lives. Online mental health services offer streamlined connectivity between providers and patients as well. Patients are granted a new level of accessibility in mental health treatment, making it easier than ever to get the care they need when they need it.

What Is Online Mental Health Treatment?

Online mental health treatment is a broad term for any online treatment offered by mental health providers. Some treatments are offered through applications, or “apps,” on a cell phone or tablet, whereby patients are connected with a provider in the network. This is not normally covered by insurance but can be significantly cheaper than paying out of pocket at a clinic.

Some providers are embracing the digital age and offering online mental health services in their practice. Physicians may offer chat or video therapy sessions and assessments to facilitate treatment in a secured patient portal. Many patients are thrilled to have online treatment options for its ease of use.

Additional benefits of online mental health treatment include:

  • Convenience. Patients can receive treatment from their mental health care provider without taking time away from home or work for travel to an office.
  • Accessibility. Patients who have trouble making physical appointments are given a more convenient option. This promotes participation and continuity of care for the patient.
  • Comfort. Online mental health treatment appeals especially to younger patients who are used to using the web in everyday life. Many young patients feel more comfortable reaching out online rather than in person.

There are pros and cons to every mental health treatment option, and online treatment is no exception. It’s important to protect yourself from applications that offer false claims regarding the licensure of the provider. Be sure to verify any and all claims made before considering an online service for mental health treatment. If you are working with a local provider, it’s easier to verify the validity of the practice. With online providers, it’s important to do your research.

Confidentiality Policies with Online Mental Health Treatment

Online mental health providers are bound to the same privacy practices as a provider in a clinic. When you begin services, a written notice will be given to you regarding the information that your provider is allowed to share or use. You should receive this notice on your first day of treatment, and you may request a copy at any time.

In an effort to enforce privacy in healthcare, the Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets federal standards for patient confidentiality, including:

  • National Provider Identifier (NPI) Standard, which requires every provider have a 10-digit code
  • Transaction and Code Sets Standards, in which providers must follow a standard code system to submit and process insurance claims
  • HIPAA Privacy Rule, which establishes national standards for protecting patients’ information
  • HIPAA Security Rule, which sets standards for data security
  • HIPAA Enforcement Rule, which allows violation investigations pertaining to HIPAA regulations

Physicians are held to a specific code of conduct to be upheld at all times. If there is a breach of information, it’s important to report this breach as soon as you’re made aware. In a secured atmosphere (patient portals are on a secure server), the likelihood of information getting into the wrong hands is very slim. If you have questions regarding the security of your information, you’re within your rights to ask.

Studies About Online-Based Psychotherapy

Online mental health treatment has existed for more than ten years, although studies are limited regarding its effectiveness. In a comprehensive study evaluating the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions, sixty-four verifiable articles published from 2006 to 2008 were extracted and analyzed. Ninety-two support studies were also given meta-analysis for the report. Within these studies, a total of 9,764 patients who were treated with online mental health therapies were analyzed.

This compiled study indicated that:

  • The percentage of reported effectiveness was found to be 53 percent overall, also referred to as “medium effect”
  • Medium effect is common in face-to-face therapies
  • The type of therapies provided did not make a notable difference in this method’s effectiveness

More information is needed to fully gauge the efficacy of online mental health treatment as online treatment options progress. Updates in methodology can be related to changes in therapeutic practices, interface options, and availability of interactive diagnostic testing.

Is Online Mental Health Treatment for You?

With all of the options for mental health treatment out there, you may be intrigued to know about this accessibility feature. If you or a loved one would like to know more about online mental health treatment, we’re here to help. Contact us today!


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