Telemedicine reduces mental health burden of COVID-19, study finds

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The psychological impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is increasingly evident for patients directly and indirectly affected, and telemedicine offers a potential solution to reducing the mental health burden, according to a new study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.

In the study, led by Xiaoyun Zhou, PhD, the researchers found substantial evidence supports the effectiveness of telemental health in the areas of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Factors such as fear of exposure, isolation, loss of income, reduced autonomy, and the absence of a cure for coronavirus infection are contributing to increased stress.

 The authors emphasize that the provision of mental health support, especially via telehealth, will help patients maintain their psychological wellbeing. Examples of and evidence to support the effectiveness of telemental health are diverse, the authors said. Videoconferencing, online community forums, smartphone apps, text-messaging, and e-mails have been shown to be useful communication methods for the delivery of mental health services.

"Telemedicine is growing exponentially at all healthcare institutions, as well as for physicians in groups and in private practice,” said Mary Ann Liebert, president and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publisher of Telemedicine and e-Health, in a statement. “Healthcare executives are preparing for this.”