Telehealth Opens New Possibilities For Suicide Prevention

By Tamara Thomas - February 28, 2023

Telehealth is highly effective in administering antidepressant intervention leading to reduced suicidal ideation and improved recovery, according to research published in JMIR Formative Research.

Dr. Mimi Winsberg’s study looked at how a telepsychiatry platform affects suicidal thoughts over time and recovery. It also examined how age, gender, and medical history affect suicidal thoughts and recovery.

The study included approximately 8,580 US adults seeking help for depression, anxiety, or both. Out of these, 8,366 were in the group receiving treatment, and two hundred and fifteen were in a group not receiving treatment. The group receiving treatment had been getting help for at least twelve weeks and was given a mental health medication prescription during the study.

The study found that telehealth, contrary to previous beliefs, delivers mental health services effectively. According to the findings, patients in the telehealthcare group were 4.3 times more likely to achieve remission from their suicidal thoughts than the control group, who were also monitored on the platform but did not receive care.

After controlling for age and depression severity, the researchers found that those in the treatment group improved regardless of demographics. However, people in the control group with less education worsened over time.

They also found that women and those with higher education were 1.4 times more likely to recover than others.

“The results demonstrated that a telehealth platform equipped with clinical decision support was an effective intervention for the symptom of suicidal ideation. In addition, we found that suicidal ideation had higher correlations with cognitive symptoms of hopelessness and poor feelings of self-worth than with the physical symptoms of depression such as disrupted sleep and low energy,” Winsberg said.

The researchers wrote that this study marks a crucial milestone for telemedicine and mental health, as it can open up new possibilities for widespread access to care. 

Winsberg added, “… As payers and providers collaborate to deliver more effective care, telehealth will likely become more than a means to deliver care. It will also enhance care delivery and provide highly effective care to those who need it most with expediency.”

Source: HealthNews

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