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What is Telepsychiatry?


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 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.


Unfortunately there are almost certainly not enough psychiatrists, and, particularly in Australia it can be difficult to find a psychiatrist 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 freely available videoconferencing software to connect patients with specialists.


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


Telepsychiatry 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 telepsychiatry 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 Telepsychiatrist.Online I 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. The care I 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.






Prof Richard Harvey is a consultant psychiatrist with over 20 years experience in mental health. He offers an innovative telepsychiatry service with consultations via the internet.

Address : PO BOX 117, North Geelong VIC 3215

Email :

Phone : 1300 617 685

Fax: 03 9923 6590

Secure communication preferred via Healthlink (EDI: telepsyc), Argus (ID: 3024422) or Medical Objects (ID: RH3221000QH)

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