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What is Telehealth?


It's probably better to start with a simpler question of 'What is a psychiatrist?'. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialised in treating conditions relating to mental health. To become a psychiatrist you first have to train as a medical doctor, which takes 5-6 years. As a young doctor you then specialize in psychiatry which takes another 5-8 years.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is a specialist in diagnosis - trying to recognise and identify the condition causing the symptoms being experienced. In psychiatry this mainly involves talking to patients about symptoms, experiences and problems both in the present and in the past. As a medical doctor a psychiatrist may prescribe medication, if this is appropriate, but will also use psychological approaches to treatment, and will often combine both.


A psychologist is a professional trained in the science of how people think, feel, behave and learn. In Australia, registered psychologists are required to have a minimum of six years of university training and supervised experience, and to engage in ongoing education to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. They must also adhere to certain strict standards to keep their registration, and must provide professional services according to a strict code of ethics.


Unfortunately there are almost certainly not enough psychiatrists or psychologists, and, particularly in Australia it can be difficult to find a practitioner outside of major cities. The Australian Government has recognised this and is encouraging the use of 'telehealth'. Telehealth involves the use of the internet and simple videoconferencing software to connect patients with practitioners.


As the benefits of mental health care come mainly from the patient and the practitioner talking together this works particularly well in a telehealth setting. There are now a significant number of scientific publications that confirm that mental health care delivered over videoconferencing is at least as effective as face to face care, and some studies have shown higher patient satisfaction.


Telehealth is fully supported by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists who have provided a helpful leaflet for patients.


To take advantage of telehealth all that is needed is a reasonably fast internet connection (4G, broadband or NBN) and a device that can make video calls (PC or MAC with web cam, microphone and speakers, an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Android tablet). For more details see the 'How does it work?' menu above.


In creating Telepsych.Online we have established an online only private practice that is intended to be accessible to anyone over the age of 18 in Australia who is seeking assistance from a psychiatrist or psychologist. The care we provide is holistic, centred on your needs and your concerns and is based on a philosophy of recovery - helping you to get the best out of your life.




We are consultant psychiatrists and psychologists committed to improving access to high quality mental health care in rural and regional areas of Australia.

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