Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to Conventional Mental Care: a Systematic Review

Acta Inform Med. 2017 Dec;25(4):240-246. doi: 10.5455/aim.2017.25.240-246.


Background and objectives: Due to the high costs of conventional mental health care, there has been a rise in the application of web-based technologies in recent years, i.e., telemental health care. We conducted this systematic review in 2017, using high quality research articles on the applications, technologies, advantages and challenges associated with telemental health care published since year 2000.

Methods: We used a combination of relevant key words to search four major databases, such as "Web of Sciences, Embase, PubMed and Science Direct". From among 156 articles, which had been published since 2000, twenty five articles met all of the inclusion criteria and were selected for the final review. The information extracted from these articles were used to construct Tables 1 and 2. Also, the materials derived from 55 credible articles were used as further support and complementary facts to substantiate the information presented in the Discussion section.

Results: The findings revealed that telemental health care is an extended domain supportive of conventional mental health services. Currently, telemental health care has multiple capabilities and technologies for providing effective interventions to patients with various mental illnesses. It provides clinicians with a wide variety of innovative choices and strategies for mental interventions, in addition to significant future potentials.

Conclusions: Telemental health care can provide effective and adaptable solutions to the care of mental illnesses universally. While being comparable to in-person services, telemental health care is particularly advantageous and inexpensive through the use of current technologies and adaptable designs, especially in isolated communities.

Keywords: applications; mental disorders; tele-psychiatry; telemedicine; telemental health.