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Telehealth Insights

Telemental Services: Treating Teen Mental Health Through Telemedicine

By May 15, 2023May 24th, 2024No Comments

Mental health and reducing the stigma associated with asking for help have been hot topics of conversation these last few years. This dialogue is coming on the heels of the pandemic, which undoubtedly exacerbated many mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. As a pediatric provider, you know that mental illness does not discriminate by age and, unfortunately, there have been reports that the incidence of mental illness and suicide has only increased in the teenage population. Luckily, we are living in a time when there is growing research and discussion around the mental healthcare of young adults.

One way you can support your teenage population and their growing independence is by implementing telehealth visits. Through research, we’ve learned that telemedicine is a successful method of caring for the mental wellness of all populations, specifically teenagers. The term “telemental” has been coined in online searches, proving that there is a real need for virtual behavioral health services.

When it comes to behavioral health, there are many benefits to virtual appointments with teens. In this blog, we’ll discuss what those benefits are and how you and your pediatric practice can employ telemedicine to better serve the teen population.

What are the Benefits of Telehealth for Teens?

There are several benefits to offering telemental services to teens. These include flexibility in appointment times, maintaining patient confidentiality, and providing emotional support. Let’s explore each of these advantages in more detail.

Flexibility

Telemedicine offers teenagers who are not of driving age the ability to see you without worrying about asking their parents to take time off work to transport them to their appointment. In addition, virtual appointments might be preferable during the school year for college students who are out of town but still rely on you as their primary care provider. Telemedicine visits can also accommodate middle and high school children who are involved in after-school activities and struggle to find time for healthcare appointments.

Confidentiality

Teenagers often feel nervous at the doctor’s office, and seeing them by video or phone might help break the tension. It wasn’t that long ago when practices were completing telehealth visits through FaceTime, Zoom, and other non-secure systems. However, as demand has evolved, you can offer telehealth appointments through HIPAA-compliant platforms, such as Anytime Pediatrics. Virtual visits are not recorded, nor are they shared with anyone. Your patients can feel confident in their environment where there’s comfort and trust, allowing them to adequately express their mental wellness concerns.

Support

Telemental services offer you the opportunity to speak with your teen patients about their struggles, such as healthy eating, focus issues, and changes in their mood. They also might be more willing to open up about private concerns like sexual health, relationships, and potential substance use. Teens and young adults can have important one-on-one time with their doctor in a quiet space at home or at school. Providing teens with compassionate guidance fosters an environment where they feel supported enough to discuss their concerns.

How Can Telehealth Reduce Barriers to Accessing Care?

Just like other populations, teens experience barriers to care. Telemedicine addresses key concerns that often contribute to limited healthcare access.

First, let’s look at social disparities. Telehealth has ensured timely mental health access to traditionally hard-to-reach groups. In fact, studies have shown that minorities, those with low socioeconomic status, and multi-generational families are more likely to utilize virtual appointments. Telemedicine is effective at reaching these disadvantaged young adults.

Next, transportation can be a huge hurdle for families who need mental health services. Studies suggest that transportation is a healthcare barrier for over two-thirds of the population. Especially for teens, lack of transportation presents a difficult challenge. For parents who work hourly jobs, they face having to take time off of work, as well as the challenges of reliable transportation access and financial burdens demanded by in-person services. Telemental health services significantly reduce these struggles.

How Can Telehealth Help Pediatricians Better Serve Teens?

Telehealth visits, like those available through the Anytime Pediatrics platform, not only increase pediatric patients’ access to mental and behavioral healthcare, but they can also be helpful for you as the provider as you effectively treat patients. For example, imagine a child who has expressed how frustrating a sibling’s behavior can be. If this scenario plays out in real time as the sibling intrudes into a telehealth visit, you now have the opportunity to watch your patient practice their skills immediately and give professional feedback. If something doesn’t work, you can see why and brainstorm alternative recommendations with the child.

In addition, telehealth allows you to see a child in their own environment and hear informative noises in the background, observe interactions with siblings and family members, virtually meet pets, and see the patient’s room or treasured possessions. This contributes to patients feeling supported and increases the likelihood they will express their symptoms.

How Can Anytime Pediatrics Help You Take the Next Step?

With Anytime Pediatrics, you can offer secure video visits during regular business hours or at alternate times that work with families’ busy schedules. Virtual appointments help bridge the gap between untreated mental illness and successful management of mental health.

When it comes to providing mental health services, telehealth is a potentially life-saving tool. The flexibility and convenience associated with virtual care contributes to high rates of patient satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. For more information, contact us today to request a consultation!