Future Directions in the Use of Telemental Health to Improve the Accessibility and Quality of Children's Mental Health Services

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Apr;26(3):296-300. doi: 10.1089/cap.2015.0079. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Objectives: This concluding commentary offers a brief overview of progress to date in providing telemental health services to children, and then offers a critical vision for future research needed to provide the rigorous empirical foundation for telemental health to be considered a well-established format for the delivery of children's mental health services.

Methods: We review how recent years have witnessed advances in the science and practice of children's telemental health, and the articles in this special series collectively offered a critical step forward in the establishment of a guiding literature to provide informed direction for child providers incorporating remote technologies to extend their practices.

Results: Researchers must be cautious not to develop a "horse race" mentality and a misguided search for a decisive "winner" regarding the ultimate effectiveness of child telemental health versus traditional clinic-based treatments. Instead, research efforts are needed to examine key mediators and moderators of telemental health treatment response. The question should not be simply whether telemental health strategies are supported, but rather when, under what circumstances, and for whom telemental health formats may be most indicated. Barriers to the continued evolution of children's telemental health are discussed, and we consider issues of telemental health reimbursement and matters of cross-state professional jurisdiction.

Conclusions: Continued efforts are needed in order to fully actualize the potential of children's telemental health to optimize the quality and transform the accessibility of mental health services for all children, regardless of income or geography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / trends*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / trends*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Telemedicine / trends*