Internet Mental Health Issues
HHS 310: H & HS Culture: The Helping Relationship
Over the past few years, the internet has become influential in the lives of many. The internet is used as a means of communication, a resourceful tool for research, and a reference guide to seeking out answers to common questions. Many people use the internet to seek out non-medical emergency advice. This helps gives us an idea of how we should treat certain illnesses. The information you find on the internet can sometimes cause you to feel uneasy. The information that you read on the internet can cause you to feel seriously ill even though your symptoms may not be as severe as you believe. We have all googled certain symptoms we believe to have had to try and self diagnose ourselves, before seeking out a medical professional this helped us save money and a doctor’s visit. You should never self-medicate you should always seek out professional medical advice. If there is a serious medical emergency I would suggest you go to the emergency room to seek out a medical professional.
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The internet is used for many things, but it shouldn’t be used to try and diagnose someone with potential mental health issues. It can be quite difficult to provide mental health services to those who are in need via the internet. Mental health services are very widespread and many mental health diseases can be difficult to diagnose if you’re not properly credentialed. Many of the signs and symptoms that are associated with mental health disease have similar characteristics, bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, and stress all have significant treatment plans. Patients that are showing suicidal thoughts may require more of active and intensive service, than the services that can be provided via the internet. These patients need to actually meet face-to-face with healthcare professionals to be treated.
What might work for one of mental health disorder may not necessarily work for another. As a healthcare professional it will be very difficult to diagnose someone over the internet and adhere to the code of ethics. The internet is a great asset to utilize when gathering information, but it doesn’t help when your working with mental health. However, should be done inherently from an ethical standpoint.
Treatments and the courses of action should always align with the Code of Ethics, The American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Work.
The National Association of Social Workers, states when human service professionals make ethical decisions they should consider the impact of the values that determine the personal and moral values that are encountered (NASW).
Providers that aren’t licensed properly or educated pose potential risk whether they have face-to-face interactions, or if they are treated over the internet “State licensing laws don’t generally allow an out-of-state psychologist to provide telepsychology services” (DeAngelis, 2012). In most states, you have to be licensed in your State and in the State that your client is located in. However, there are some exceptions some States have a guest licensure provision that allows the out-of-state psychologist to provide short-term services to patients in another State under special conditions. There is also a credential called the Interjurisdictional practice certificate that allows temporary practice in other jurisdictions. Being a healthcare professional you must do your research and make sure you are aware of any new laws that are passed. You can also contact the state licensing board or any knowledgeable colleagues this will help you stay informed on current laws. Dealing with patients that are out of state can cost an extensive amount of money being that they are out-of-network. The healthcare providers that are out-of-network don’t have an agreement with your health insurance, so it will cost more to receive services from that healthcare professional “A majority of health policies do not comprise of online therapies, creating an issue for reimbursement, therefore, an out of network and out of pocket expense for the client” (Childress, 2000).
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As technology advances, doctor-patient relationships will forever be evolving and changing in terms of social and environmental factors (Yellowless, Chan, & Burke-Parish, 2015). Telepsychiatry has a better effect on certain patients groups than the traditional face-to-face method. This method allows for better collaboration between psychiatrists and primary care physicians and improved patient satisfaction. There are many people that believe that treating mental health issues via the internet will work and there are many who believe that this type of treatment violates ethical issues. According to Jörn Moock (2014), online-based health services in the mental health sector can be delivered via the internet to potentially address the unmet needs of those requiring mental health care. Moock (2014) contends that not allowing unrestricted access to sufficient medical care through internet usage for mentally disabled persons, pressing public mental health tasks will likely be one of the future. However, Moock does not address ethical issues that pose an issue through the transpiring of psychotherapy for mental health patients through interpersonal communication via the internet. There is little to no resources available to clients that are suffering from a mental health disorder in certain areas. Delivering mental health services over the internet will open up more resources to people who are suffering from mental health disorders “These attributes include anonymous, easy, and flexible access to health care providers 24 hours a day, and in increasingly remote areas” (Moock, 2014). Utilizing the internet to deliver this mental health services will be cost effective on a business standpoint, the shortage of money in the public health arena is what is causing people who suffer mentally to seek out alternative treatments. This will help increase the resources in those areas that don’t offer services to the mentally-ill patients. In the past, people believed that mental health patients should be locked away from civilization. There were no resources available to treat them and they didn’t know what to do with them, but they wanted them off the streets. This lead to many of the correctional facilities being overcrowded. There has been limited access to mental services over the past few decades, which is why if the internet services are provided it would help open up the door to more access for those who suffer mentally. Everyone is incorporating the internet in their life at some level and everyone has a smartphone, so offering mental health services through apps and other E-services will help those who are afraid to be seen seeking out help. People are afraid of being judged and some refuse to seek out help just because of what other people think, so if they are able to do get help without compromising themselves they will do it.
There are various ways that patients with mental health issues can communicate via the internet, Social workers, psychologist, and other human service workers utilizing the internet will have to take into consideration what will best fit and meet the clients/patients needs. Respect and privacy of a patient/client should always be upheld and accounted for according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). You have to make sure you properly encrypting electronic transmissions and records. The internet can be a very dangerous place with the many data breaches that occur daily. You have to make sure that you taking the necessary steps to protect your patient’s identity. As internet usage becomes more widely accepted in treating those with mental health issues, ethics, and core values will be the personal responsibility of each professional seeking to practice online (Childress,2000).
- Childress, C. A. (2000). Ethical Issues in Providing Online Psychotherapeutic Interventions. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2(1), e5. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2.1.e5
- DeAngelis, T. (2012, March). Practicing distance therapy, legally and ethically. Retrieved January 7, 2019, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/03/virtual.aspx
- Moock, J. (2014). Support from the Internet for Individuals with Mental Disorders: Advantages and Disadvantages of e-Mental Health Service Delivery. Frontiers in Public Health, 2, 65. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2014.00065
- National Association of Social Workers (https://www.naswdc.org)
- Yellowlees, P., Chan, S., Parish, M. (2015). The hybrid doctor-patient relationship in the age of technology – Telepsychiatry consultations and the use of virtual space. International Review of Psychiatry. Volume 27 Issue 6 Telepsychiatry http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/09540261.2015.1082987
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