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Psychiatry Professor Gerald Perman Answers Your Questions About Telepsychiatry

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Cronkite News’ mental health parity collaborative features Professor of Psychiatry Gerald Perman who answers your queries regarding Telepsychiatry.

Lane and Vana have worked to improve healthcare access at the Lummi tribal clinic by creating a residency training program with UW School of Medicine that trains psychiatry residents on culturally respectful care practices.

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is the branch of medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating mental illness. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DOs), having completed four years of undergraduate study followed by at least four additional years in medical school before becoming licensed physicians. After residency training is complete they often pursue board certification through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; such professionals can work anywhere from private practice, hospitals and academic institutions.

Psychiatrists undergo residency programs that equip them to diagnose emotional and mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Furthermore, psychiatrists become skilled in administering psychotropic medications – such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. For informed prescription decisions psychiatrists need an in-depth knowledge of pharmacology as well as how different drugs affect both body and mind.

psychiatrists provide more than just medication – they also offer psychotherapy or counseling sessions, in which a patient and psychiatrist meet regularly to explore thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships that contribute to mental health issues in a person. Depending on the diagnosis given by doctors, specific psychotherapy techniques or an overall plan that includes both psychotherapy and medication may be recommended as treatment plans.

Psychopsychiatry encompasses many subspecialties, such as neuropsychiatry – which specializes in mental illness caused by diseases or injuries to the nervous system – geriatric psychiatry – which addresses older adults’ mental health needs – and consultation liaison psychiatry (which investigates interactions between other medical specialties and psychiatry). Some psychiatrists may choose to specialize in one demographic (children or women), conduct research or teach.

People experiencing ongoing and severe mental, emotional, or behavioral difficulties should seek professional psychiatric assistance immediately. Although it can be hard to admit there’s an issue at play, early treatment of mental health conditions is critical in saving lives and improving quality of life.

How can Psychiatry Help Me?

Psychiatry provides diagnosis and treatment of various mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, psychosis, addictions, poor body image, insomnia, hallucinations delusions or suicidal thoughts. Furthermore, psychiatrists work in collaboration with primary care physicians to offer patients the most effective care.

No matter your mental health condition – whether depression, anxiety or any other – psychiatry offers hope of recovery by tailoring medications and therapies to each unique situation.

The American Psychiatric Association is the nation’s premier medical specialty society dedicated to mental healthcare. They work tirelessly to advance psychiatry, raise awareness about its significance, advocate for patients by lobbying for increased funding for research, parity in insurance coverage and protection from abuses by managed-care companies.

In 2022, the American Psychological Association honored Professor Elyn Saks – founder and faculty director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics at USC Gould School of Law – with its Patient Advocacy Award. Saks is an esteemed MacArthur Foundation Fellow as well as author of her memoir entitled “My Journey through Schizophrenia,” as well as recipient of Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s Pardes Humanitarian Prize for her efforts in fighting stigma surrounding mental illness.

How Can Psychiatry Help You?

When it comes to mental health conditions, consulting a psychiatrist is an integral part of treatment. They treat conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression – as well as offering prescription as well as helping their patients develop healthier ways to cope with symptoms.

Your doctor will first conduct a full assessment of both your mental and physical health, including reviewing your medical history. They may then use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose any mental illnesses you might be suffering from and devise a customized treatment plan that may include therapy, medications or advice on creating support structures.

Your type of therapy depends on both your psychiatric diagnosis and severity of symptoms, with talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) often used as the initial solution. If these are severe enough, however, neurostimulation therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation might also be recommended by your physician.

Psychiatrists can also be invaluable if you suffer from an ongoing condition, such as PTSD, anxiety or depression. Such ailments can significantly diminish quality of life and cause you to avoid activities and people. Medication or other treatments can help restore your quality of life and facilitate healthy relationships once more.

If your symptoms are too severe for treatment through telepsychiatry, psychiatric hospitals may offer short-term stays as an option to help keep them under control. These programs offer 24-hour inpatient care programs, partial hospitalization or day hospitalization or residential treatment in a supportive, safe and nurturing environment which will protect you from harming yourself or others.

If the cost of visiting a psychiatrist is an issue for you, know that many private practices offer what’s known as a sliding scale arrangement – this means the fees per session can be decreased depending on your income level. Online directories can help you locate such practitioners. Also check with your insurer to see if psychiatric services are covered under their policy.

What is Telepsychiatry?

Until recently, when someone needed to see their therapist or psychiatrist they would typically drive to a mental health clinic or hospital office and be subject to long wait times when they arrived. Some people even go through an unfortunate process known as “boarding”, when diagnosed with mental illness but forced to wait for admission into an inpatient psychiatric facility.

Delays often arise due to limited beds and staff availability at mental health facilities in remote areas; transport may also be limited for these facilities. Telepsychiatry offers an effective solution by enabling patients to access their psychiatrist without traveling; this enables them to receive care more conveniently while helping avoid delays when seeking care.

Telepsychiatry comes in various forms and each type is designed to serve unique functions. Home-based telepsychiatry provides patients of all ages with care in their homes from professionals that specialize in this form of telepsychiatry – this method often used by children and teenagers diagnosed with anxiety and depression. On the other hand, forensic telepsychiatry provides care for inmates at correctional facilities or those on suicide watch.

Telepsychiatry offers another benefit, that of helping emergency situations. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic many people were forced to remain indoors without going to their usual work or school and this has made receiving mental healthcare difficult for some of them. Telepsychiatry helps address these challenges by connecting patients directly with psychiatrists and therapists via video chat in the comfort of their own home.

When selecting a telepsychiatry provider, it is crucial that they adhere to HIPAA. Certain standard video conferencing apps and software do not comply with HIPAA, leading to privacy issues for patients. HIPAA-compliant providers utilize secure connections and encrypted data storage methods in order to keep patient information confidential.