Everything You Need To Know About E-Mental Health

E-Mental Health

In a time of increasingly overburdened healthcare systems, practitioners face a pressing need for more cost-effective, accessible mental healthcare solutions.

e-Mental health services provide an advanced, effective response to this challenge by making important treatments available to patients using the internet. In this article, we’ll explore what an e-mental health service can look like and the problems they aim to solve.

We’ll also consider their benefits in comparison to conventional mental health solutions, and highlight some top e-mental health conferences where you can learn more about the field.

Before reading on further, we think you’ll love our $1 trial of all Quenza’s e-mental health tools. Quenza is a complete blended care software solution that will help you share e-mental health solutions professionally online, and gives you everything you need to deliver personalized e-therapy for even better patient outcomes.

What is E-Mental Health?

E-mental health is a catch-all term for any mental health service, treatment, information, or care that is delivered via the internet or connected device.[1][2]

Short for electronic mental health, it can include a vast range of resources, tools, and interventions, made available anyone with an internet connection via:

  • Social Media
  • Websites
  • Chat rooms, Forums, or Discussion Boards
  • Smartphone apps, and
  • Specialized Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) or Video-based e-counseling therapy platforms.

Some of the most well-recognized and widely popular e-mental health interventions include Internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (iCBT), online peer-support groups, and therapist-delivered e-therapy.[1]

Who Is It For?

Practitioners and patients can both leverage e-mental health solutions in the treatment of different symptoms.

For individuals, its applications include the evaluation, monitoring, and remedy of clinical diagnoses such as :

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Phobias, and more.

E-mental health tools are also a vastly useful and popular means of managing sub-clinical, yet problematic mental health challenges of the same scope.

Examples include ESM ‘experience tracker’ applications for stress reduction, or iCBT apps for symptoms of depression. Below, you can see what the latter might look like in action.

ABC Analysis E-mental health Quenza Example
An ABC Functional Analysis exercise is one example of the e-mental health solutions that can be delivered using therapy apps like Quenza

From a healthcare professional’s perspective, e-counseling and e-health solutions like Quenza (pictured) often offer a convenient, effective way to deliver established therapies and treatments to patients without geographic or timezone-related constraints.

Its Applications

E-Mental health services generally fall into four broad categories to cover a range of applications[3].

These are:

  • Psychoeducational services
  • Services related to screening, monitoring, and assessment
  • Practical interventions
  • E-mental health services that provide social support

Each may be offered as a standalone service by a specific organization or practitioner, or they can be used as interrelated elements of comprehensive and individualized online treatment plan.

Psychoeducational Services

These e-mental health services are focused on information provision, with the goal of making quality, research-based information more accessible to those seeking to manage a mental health condition.[4]

Psychoeducational resources play a valuable role in mental health treatment plans as a way to inform clients about the specifics of their condition, and may include information on symptoms, self-management, and further resources for seeking help. They can also be a great way to engage patients in their

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, for example, offers many psychoeducational resources both on its site and as part of outreach programs, as blog articles, videos, infographics, and even interactive games targeted at younger audiences.[5]

Screening, Monitoring, and Assessment Services

The internet is a convenient, cost-effective way for practitioners and healthcare organizations to make online tests and diagnostic tools available to patients across the world.[6]

The internet is a convenient, cost-effective way for practitioners and healthcare organizations to make online tests and diagnostic tools available to patients across the world.

These can include self-report surveys on symptoms, warning signs, risk indicators, and more. Using assessment software, e-clinics, hospitals, and similar organizations are often able to quickly upload prepared discipline-specific scales, measures, and tests online for clients to complete at their leisure.

As well as saving in-clinic time, data from these online tests can often also be used to auto-populate a patient’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR).

E-Mental Health Interventions

Digital mental health interventions can include applications such as assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or iCBT, and relate to the specific treatment or techniques involved in a patient’s recovery.[7][8]

Typically, online interventions are:

  • Self-led
  • Therapist-guided, or
  • A combination of both.

Online chat therapy, mental health apps, and video therapy – shown below – all fall under this umbrella:

e-Mental Health Tools Quenza Video Therapy
Video therapy software such as Quenza enables more frequent patient-practitioner interactions between sessions, helping to maintain engagement and progress.

Where face-to-face appointments are inconvenient or inconvenient, e-mental health solutions can provide the personal interaction and engagement that patients need to progress.

Social Support

e-Mental Health can also take the form of online peer support groups, forums, and discussion boards.[9]

These can be critical tools in a patient’s wellness or management journey by creating a space for individuals and other stakeholders to seek help and find support.[10]

This can be especially important to clients who are concerned about perceived stigma related to their condition.

Why Offer E-Mental Health Solutions?

From early intervention and first-line treatments to health maintenance, awareness promotion, and relapse prevention, therefore, e-mental health solutions cover a wide gambit of needs.

Leveraging digital technologies to deliver important mental healthcare services is an innovative, effective way to provide alternative to conventional treatments.

In this section, we look at why practitioners might choose a digital approach over standard face-to-face treatments.

Advantages of Digital Mental Health

One clear advantage of e-mental health for individual patients is its accessibility – going online to receive treatment is much easier than commuting to a therapist’s office, for example.

The table below includes a few more advantages of e-mental health.

Advantage

Details

Flexible, no transport requirements[2]

  • Patients and users can access course material or live therapy without transport costs
  • Solutions are accessible at home for those with mobility issues

Low relative cost for patients[11]

  • Compared to conventional therapy, many apps, peer support groups, and online clinical treatments are cost-effective
  • e-Health solutions are more practical and realistic for low-income and disadvantaged demographics

Cost-effective for practitioners

  • Digital courses, videoconferencing software, and counseling apps involve none of the overheads of maintaining a physical surgery, e.g. rent, utilities

Sustainable long-term[12]

  • Smartphone applications and teletherapy services can encourage continued progress after in-patient therapy ends
  • They may also be an effective way to maintain progress between sessions
Reduced burden on physical offices
  • As more appropriate patients seek out online treatments, there is less pressure on healthcare resources, e.g. waiting times
Quicker, faster solutions
  • Digitally available treatments can be made rapidly available for minor complaints, or in emergency situations where geographical distance is an issue

3 Upcoming Conferences on E-Mental Health

For practitioners interested in learning more about the field, various healthcare organizations host e-mental health conferences that are a great place to discuss the latest developments with other professionals.

Conference

Details

Mental Health Commission CanadaThe Mental Health Commission of Canada has hosted annual conferences for over 9 years.

The most recent 2020 event, Caring in a Digital World: Introducing Disruptive Change to Mental Health Care took place in Toronto with a focus on youth engagement, capacity building, mobile clinical apps, and designing mental health apps.

The date for their 10th Annual Conference in 2021 has not yet been announced.

NameMental Health Commission of Canada Annual e-Mental Health Conference
PriceCAD 249+ plus tax (based on 2020 conference)
Next DateTBD
Websitehttps://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/events

Conference

Details

University of Newcastle ConferenceThe University of Newcastle holds a biennial conference for practitioners in conjunction with other healthcare bodies such as the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Everymind, and the Centre for Rural and Remote Health.

Organized by the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health, the theme of this year’s 2020 conference was Delivering person-centred care through new technology. 

With an emphasis on technologically advanced, patient-centric healthcare, it specifically considered topics such as:

  • Applying information and communication technologies in person-centered mental health care strategies
  • Generating, verifying and refining theories, and critically defining the role of e-health, and
  • Examining global and regional strategies of enhancing e-health practice and research.
NameUniversity of Newcastle E-Mental Health International Conference
PriceAUD80+ (based on 2020 virtual conference)
Next DateTBD
Websitehttps://www.newcastle.edu.au/research/e-mental-health-international-conference-2020

Conference

Details

WASETC e-Mental Health ConferenceThe World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology is renowned host of academic conferences on general and mental health.

Each event includes keynotes, discussion forums, and workshops on recent innovations, trends, and concerns, in addition to practical challenges and solutions in the disciplines of Mental Health Disorders and Healthcare.

The 2021 event includes discussions on papers around the Internet of Healthcare Things, Robotic Assistance in Nursing Care, and more.

NameICMHDH 2021: 15. International Conference on Mental Health Disorders and Healthcare
Price€ 250+ for listener registrations
Next DateFebruary 25-26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia
Websitehttps://waset.org/mental-health-disorders-and-healthcare-conference-in-february-2021-in-sydney

Final Thoughts

Leveraging digital technologies to deliver important mental healthcare services is an innovative, effective way to provide alternative to conventional treatments.

By helping to reduce the burden on mental healthcare organizations, while making critical solutions more accessible for underserved demographics, e-mental health treatments have a vital role to play in the future of healthcare.

From therapy apps to mental healthcare management systems, such as EHRs and treatment planning software, the field continues to grow in a way that’s truly promising. What are your experiences with e-mental health as a patient or practitioner?

To deliver professional, personalized online therapy yourself, don’t forget to sign up for all of Quenza’s e-mental health tools with your $1 plan.

Quenza’s telemental health features are specially designed for therapists, counselors, or coaches, and include everything you need to better support your patients on their wellness journeys, bringing them positive health outcomes that last a lifetime.

References

  1. ^ Lal, S. (2019). E-mental health: promising advancements in policy, research, and practice. Healthcare Management Fórum, 32(2), 56.
  2. ^ RACGP. (2015). e-Mental Health: A Guide for Practitioners. Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/Guidelines/e-Mental%20health/e-mentalhealthguide.pdf
  3. ^ Lal, S., & Adair, C. E. (2014). E-mental health: a rapid review of the literature. Psychiatric Services, 65(1), 24.
  4. ^ Santor, D. A., Poulin, C., LeBLANC, J. C., & Kusumakar, V. (2007). Online health promotion, early identification of difficulties, and help seeking in young people. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(1), 50.
  5. ^ NAMI. (2020). Mental Health Education. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Mental-Health-Education
  6. ^ Becker, J., Fliege, H., Kocalevent, R. D., Bjorner, J. B., Rose, M., Walter, O. B., & Klapp, B. F. (2008). Functioning and validity of A Computerized Adaptive Test to measure anxiety (A‐CAT). Depression and Anxiety, 25(12), E182.
  7. ^ Khanna, M. S., & Kendall, P. C. (2010). Computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy for child anxiety: results of a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(5), 737.
  8. ^ Spek, V., Nyklíček, I., Cuijpers, P., & Pop, V. (2008). Predictors of outcome of group and internet-based cognitive behavior therapy. Journal of Affective Disorders, 105(1-3), 137.
  9. ^ Scharer, K. (2005). An internet discussion board for parents of mentally ill young children. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 18(1), 17.
  10. ^ Webb, M., Burns, J., & Collin, P. (2008). Providing online support for young people with mental health difficulties: challenges and opportunities explored. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 2(2), 108.
  11. ^ McGinty, K. L., Saeed, S. A., Simmons, S. C., & Yildirim, Y. (2006). Telepsychiatry and e-mental health services: potential for improving access to mental health care. Psychiatric Quarterly, 77(4), 335.
  12. ^ Price, M., Yuen, E. K., Goetter, E. M., Herbert, J. D., Forman, E. M., Acierno, R., & Ruggiero, K. J. (2014). mHealth: a mechanism to deliver more accessible, more effective mental health care. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 21(5), 427.

About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.

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