Telehealth use by mental health professionals during COVID-19

Louise M. Farrer*, Bonnie Clough, Marthinus J. Bekker, Alison L. Calear, Aliza Werner-Seidler, Jill M. Newby, Vikki Knott, Piers Gooding, Julia Reynolds, Leah Brennan, Philip J. Batterham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objective: To examine and describe telehealth use and attitudes among mental health professionals in Australia and New Zealand during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Participants completed a brief online survey between May and July 2020. Participants were recruited via peak and professional organisations and through psychology-focused social media groups and networks. The survey examined frequency of telehealth use, reasons for non-use, telehealth modalities, prior use, attitudes towards use, plans for future use, and training, information or resource needs. Results: A total of 528 professionals (85.2% female) participated in the survey, of which 98.9% reported using telehealth and 32.2% reported using telehealth exclusively. Respondents were less likely to use telehealth if they worked with clients experiencing complex issues (e.g. trauma), had more hours of weekly client contact, had a choice about whether to use telehealth or felt less positive about using technology. Respondents were more likely to hold positive views towards telehealth if they were female, had used online programmes with clients previously, were frequent telehealth users and were comfortable using technology. Participants expressed mixed views on client safety and the impact of telehealth on therapeutic process and effectiveness. Conclusion: Telehealth has a clear and ongoing role within mental healthcare and there is a need for strong guidance for professionals on how to manage client risk, privacy, security and adapt therapy for delivery via telehealth. In particular, there is a need for individual-, organisational-, professional- and policy-level responses to ensure that telehealth remains a viable and effective healthcare medium into the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)230-240
    Number of pages11
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
    Volume57
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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