Telehealth In Rural Communities
Despite the ubiquity of mental healthcare and other psychosocial support services in urban areas, those residing in rural areas often lack the same access to such support. In recent times, however, telehealth has radically transformed the availability of these services in remote communities.
A groundbreaking innovation in the medical industry, telehealth refers to medical services and consultancy available over the internet, connecting service providers and recipients who no longer need to leave their homes.
How does telehealth work for individuals experiencing mental health challenges?
Any individual suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other issue and is experiencing difficulty heading out of their home for treatment can avail themselves of telehealth services.
Certain service providers, including onPsych, provide the support of clinical psychologists and accredited mental health social workers under schemes like Medicare through telehealth services. Primarily done via video conferencing, this means that even those who reside in rural areas, lacking specialist care, can receive the level of service and care they require.
Why is telehealth services crucial in rural communities?
Rural communities generally experience a unique set of stressors that are prevalent outside big cities and urban zones. Some of these include higher levels of poverty, disability, relatively poor health indicators, and higher rates of high-risk behaviours including smoking, alcoholism, and drug use.
Compounding these issues are high rates of unemployment, poor financial security and fewer meaningful opportunities to lead more engaging and meaningful lives. While this may seem like an oversimplification or a generalisation of the issues faced by these communities, the fact remains that they are more vulnerable, in certain ways, to mental health difficulties.
Certain research even indicates that with an increase in remoteness, rates of self-harm and suicide also increase. This is an indicator of the importance of telehealth services, given the absence of adequate mental health support in rural communities.
Whether this stems from a lack of resources or awareness of mental health, the fact remains – mental health needs are just as acute outside urban areas as they are within. This is evidenced by the fact that the suicide rate among men between the ages of 15-29 is twice as high outside major cities.
Accessing telehealth via medicare
While this process may vary according to the service provider you choose, here at onPsych, we provide telehealth free of charge, depending on your location.
If you wish to bulk-bill our services, you will need a mental healthcare plan and need to be located in a rural/remote area. We determine this based on the Modified Monash Model and includes areas 4-7, with the additional requirement that you’re at least 15 kilometres away from an eligible healthcare professional.
Further instructions on availing yourself of our telehealth services can be found here.
onPsych telehealth FAQs
How long does each session last?
Each session generally lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. Your sessions will usually last a set duration, which you and your mental health practitioner agree on at the outset of your journey together.
Do I need anything for my telehealth sessions?
onPsych practitioners usually connect with individuals via WhatsApp, FaceTime or Skype – whichever works best for the both of you. All you need is a device compatible with any of these platforms and one that’s connected to the internet.
If you prefer to use your phone, you’re free to use it for your telehealth sessions.
Leverage telehealth services to meet your mental health needs wherever you are
Your location should not be an impediment to the quality of mental health services you access. Given that regional disparities are still woefully present, telehealth services go a long way in bridging some of this inequality and providing individuals with a chance of getting the support they need.
If you or your loved one requires specialist support and are eligible under Medicare, you can now receive effective treatment through the guidance and care of certified onPsych mental health professionals. Consult them via our telehealth services.