MDLink increases access tomental health care amid COVID-19

MDLink increases access tomental health care amid COVID-19

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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MDLink says it has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of mental health patients presenting to its telemedicine platform for assistance and treatment.

In fact, the company's CEO Dr Che Bowen told the Jamaica Observer that the platform is now seeing two to five new patients per day for mental health issues.

Acknowledging that the Jamaican population has generally been less receptive to seeking mental health care, MDLink said in a release that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that all are at risk of some form of mental stress.

“The daily conversations we have with our friends and family expressing the mental toll of coronavirus show that many of us are suffering in silence, which is often taken lightly and hardly addressed through mental treatment,” the release said.

The platform therefore intends to assist with moving mental health needs to the forefront of normal health care.

According to MDLink, the psychological impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic must be recognised alongside the physical symptoms.

“COVID-19 has brought on large amounts of mental stressors – including job insecurity, job loss, kids not in school, domestic abuse, child abuse, relationship difficulties, and even severe loneliness. From the extreme mass media coverage and the constant updates it seems that almost everyone has been mentally affected in one way or another, some more than others,” it said.

Treatment protocols for people with COVID-19 should address both the physiological and psychological needs of the patients and health service providers, MDLink said.

“Depression, anxiety and PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] are some of the top conditions that have been seen during this pandemic; a number of my patients have opted to use videoconferencing as a solution to the social distancing,” consultant psychiatrist Dr Kristen Robinson-Barrett is quoted as saying in the release.

“While we may still be in the early stages of a digital health revolution, many psychiatrists and therapists have been among the first adopters of telehealth. It makes sense.

“As one of the reasons some doctors and patients may hesitate to try telecare is the inability to do a physical exam, mental health care usually does not require a physical examination, making it a perfect specialty for telehealth,“ added Dr Bowen.

Like dermatology, almost all mental health consultations can be performed successfully without actually touching the patient, the release continued.

Mental health care relies solely on the ability of medical providers and patients to connect emotionally, and to have a conversation. This, the release said, is achievable through MDLink's face-to-face video chats. Similar to Skype or FaceTime, MDLink's online video consultation rooms allow for that emotional connection during a video chat.

In an effort to boost the access to treatment of mental conditions in Jamaica and the Caribbean region, MDLink said it is providing discounted access to online mental health video consultations.

“Not only do we manage 90 per cent of the most common conditions seen in an urgent care setting, we also provide access to some of the best mental health therapists and psychiatrists in the region,” MDLink said.

The company also said it provides a secure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant medical platform for online consultations, which means that the platform is designed to securely store, protect and manage patient information.

“It is important to note that telepsychiatry also helps patients avoid stigma and supports patient privacy, in that a patient can now seek medical treatment from the privacy of their bedroom or car; some patients do not enjoy being seen at mental health clinics. As long as a patient has a way to connect to the Internet, telepsychiatry enables them to access treatment,” MDLink said.

It said, too, that telepsychiatry has helped to expand access to mental health services at a time when the pandemic has severely restricted patients' ability to see their doctors.

The platform also urged those in need of mental help to call the Ministry of Health and Wellness hotline (888)-ONE-LOVE or visit its platform at www.theMDLink.com.


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