‘Closed-circuit television has been introduced into the field of mental hygiene as a medium for the administration of therapy to a mass audience. The present evidence indicates that that the use of this type of television may promote the development of new and more effective methods for the treatment of the mentally ill.’ This hopeful statement appeared at the beginning of a 1957 peer-reviewed paper. Four years later, the potential of telepsychiatry ‘as a means of extending mental health services to areas that are remote from psychiatric centers’ was described. Six decades later, where are we?
So begins an editorial in the current issue of The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. I’ve co-authored the paper; Dr. David Goldbloom is the first author.
Drawing on the Serhal et al. paper on telepsychiatry in Ontario, we consider the current state:
Consider: of the more than 48,000 people in need of psychiatric care (defined by the authors as psychiatric or primary care within a year after a psychiatric hospitalisation), fewer than 1% saw a psychiatrist through telepsychiatry—and 39% saw no psychiatrist. We note the marked contrast with the United States, where telepsychiatry has been rapidly growing.
And we consider how to move forward. We propose a four-point plan, including “a province-wide strategy that has defined clinical priorities, geographic rationales, and measured outcomes.”
You can find our editorial here:
Note: open access.