Mental Health Monday–Telepsychiatry

You’ve perhaps heard of surgeons using robotics to perform surgery on someone in another city, state, or even country?

Well, psychiatrists can also evaluate and treat patients remotely. Called telepsychiatry, it’s a relatively new method of connecting providers with clients when distance is a limiting factor.

I’ve never done telepsychiatry, but know colleagues who have. I’d imagine it could be challenging, considering we use all our senses (including smell) to evaluate clients. On the other hand, a client usually has a therpist or case worker present with them, while the psychiatrist communicates via camera/TV.

So, writers, if you have a character in an isolated location and they need a therapist/psychiatrist, make sure they have access to the interwebz and maybe even Skype. 😉

Let me know if you have any writerly mental health questions, and I’d be happy to answer them here on Mental Health Monday. Check out Lydia’s Medical Mondays as well and Sarah Fine’s blog, The Strangest Situation for more psych related topics.

Remember, these posts are for WRITING PURPOSES ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

9 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Telepsychiatry

  1. Lydia K says:

    Fascinating! It’s true that sense of smell, or more detailed visuals would be lost. How else would you pick up the overwhelming perfume scent on someone, or the fact that they hadn’t bathed in a week?

  2. Karen Lange says:

    Never thought about this but it makes sense in today’s world. I can see its challenges, though, like you said, without being able to use all your senses. Thanks for the info!

  3. Linda Gray says:

    Wow, I’d love to know how well people think this is working. I always wonder about those small, sensory cues we all pick up on in communicating, even in formal business communications. Seems like they would be critical in psych. evaluations, but I’m just assuming here. Love the idea for fiction!

  4. Oooh, are I could have you as my Psychiatrist and do it from across the country. That sounds fun.

  5. roguemutt says:

    Wow then you could do your therapy in your pajamas from home. What a country!

  6. Hi Dr. Diamond,
    I practice online as a Licensed Professional Counselor. It has been a great experience for me and for peers who are psychiatrists.

    Online counseling and telepsychiatry, while not for everyone, has grown rapidly in the last few years as the technology, laws and reimbursement have caught up to the need. The DOD has ramped up their telepsychiatry after they found that the soldiers had a 20% higher satisfaction rate over face to face care. They expect to see over 220,000 cases online this year alone. Also, there are 15 states as of this post that mandate the same reimbursement for face to face care and online video care.

    If you are looking for HIPAA compliant telepsychiatry technology, there is an independent comparison site at



    • lbdiamond says:

      Great info–thanks for sharing!

      Yes, we have a telepsych program at our local VA Hospital too. Helps us get to rural areas (we have a large catchment area).

  7. Vicki Tremper says:

    Oh, I love the idea of using this in a novel! And what roguemutt said.

  8. Ciara Knight says:

    This is so interesting. I would have never thought of a psychiatrist telecommuting.

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