The newest trend in the field of mental health is video conferencing and telepsychiatry appointments. People with access to tablets, smartphones, and computers are looking for better ways to connect to providers, receive advice, and even ask health related questions or seek medical advice.
Getting out of the house to visit a doctor or psychiatrist may not be easy to do, especially if transportation is a challenge or it is a rural area. Telemedicine and telepsychiatry offer what is becoming a cheaper solution to the healthcare challenge of providing adequate support for people who need on-demand access to services. More insurance companies are jumping on board to provide coverage, meaning more people may be able to take advantage of this growing health trend. Here is some advice to consider before making a telepsychiatry appointment.
Consider all the things you might want to discuss before the appointment. Rather than taking up time with small talk or laying out everything going on, it helps to narrow it down and be specific. Know what it is you need help with, whether it is renewing a prescription, getting support for a medical condition, or walking through symptoms to decide next steps in care. Prioritize what is most important for you as your time is limited and may only be helpful if you can jot notes ahead of time as to what you want to accomplish. Before connecting with a telepsychiatrist for mental health advice, write down some of the following details:
- Prescription medications, any over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements or vitamins being taken
- Primary doctor’s name and contact info
- Pharmacy phone number and address
- Medical history
- Basic symptoms or reason for an appointment
- Insurance and billing information
Know the Choices
Employers are jumping onboard and providing access to telehealth services through insurance. Prior to making an appointment, it is best to discuss this with an employer and select a health clinic. The internet is one place to start but friends may also offer recommendations. There are phone and tablet apps that may be downloaded. Take time to register with the company you want services from, test out the application or program on the computer ahead of time and make sure you know how to operate the program. If you are unsure how to use it, talk to someone at the company or ask a friend to help you get it up and running.
Find Quiet Space
There are places like libraries which provide wi-fi access and private rooms, or cafés may also do this, but you will have to book in advance to use the space. If possible, try to find a quiet, private place to talk at home, away from distractions such as children, pets and other things that may get in the way during a phone call. Plan on a half hour visit, but it may be longer or shorter depending on the situation. Be sure to charge up the computer, phone, or device and get a notepad and writing utensil handy. If you utilize medical equipment, be sure to have that ready so you are not searching for it when on the call. Keep data that is needed at the ready in case the provider asks for it.
Speaking to a telepsychiatry professional is like meeting them in person. Once you have written everything down, you are ready to chat. Be prepared to answer some of the doctor’s questions:
- What prompted the appointment?
- What are the symptoms? How long have you had them, how did they develop?
- What has been treated so far and results?
- Is this new or is this from an existing health issue?
- What other things are popping up that seem unusual or prompted this meeting?
A patient assessment may be emailed with instructions after the visit, but it helps to write things down. Confirm what was discussed before hanging up and make sure you understand everything. Nothing replaces in-person treatment. Small nuances may be missed, or you may feel unsure what to say. Feel free to share what is needed so you can get the proper treatment you deserve.
If you find you are struggling with mental health concerns or want to seek advice, BetterHelp can support you in finding telemedicine, telepsychiatry, or other necessary support for your journey of healing.
About: Beth Orchard is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and Bond University, Queensland, Australia with a Master’s in Criminology, focus on Social Justice and Community Development. She is a mother of two, writer, bibliovore, and adventure seeker of the path less taken. She volunteers and advocates for adults and children with congenital genetic anomalies as well as supporting men, women, and families to seek better overall mental, physical, and spiritual health.