Telemental Health Care: A Review of Efficacy and Interventions


  • Calvin T. Schaffer University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate
  • Preeti Nakrani BeHealthy Partnership; Baystate Health
  • Paul A. Pirraglia University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate; BeHealthy Partnership; and Baystate Health



Telemedicine, Mental Health, Health Services Accessibility, Emergency Service, Hospital


Objective: Mental illness continues to rise in the United States, burdening a healthcare system set to dive further into a shortage of mental health practitioners. The effects of this are already being felt in many rural areas, which are all too frequently understaffed to address the mental health concerns of their populations. To further compound this growing crisis, COVID-19 has led to a reduction in access to in-person care. Furthermore, COVID-19 has led to reduced access to in-person care. As a result, Telehealth has become more essential. Knowledge of the strategies and barriers to implement a successful Telehealth program is necessary to deliver a sustainable, accessible, and quality care.

Design: In this review, we analyze published research on the efficacy of Telehealth for mental health, discuss how these services have been implemented, and explore how to address barriers to quality care delivery via Telehealth.

Results: Telehealth, when the appropriate resources and supports are considered, is effective in a wide range of patient populations and care locations. Multiple modalities, including via video, apps, and telephone were shown to be efficacious. Interventions have been shown to increase the accessibility to care without compromising quality of care.

Conclusions: Telehealth constitutes a well-researched, efficacious tool to address the issues in access to care. Telemental health programs should address the barriers to implementation, including training, access to technology, reimbursement and regulations, and adequate program oversight. Telehealth interventions should be strongly considered in areas facing shortages of mental health practitioners and long wait times for patients with mental health disorders, to reduce the burden of mental illness on healthcare.


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Author Biographies

Calvin T. Schaffer, University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate

Calvin T. Schaffer, BS, is a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate in the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track. Calvin received his undergraduate degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His interests include public health, global health, health care policy, and quality improvement.

Preeti Nakrani, BeHealthy Partnership; Baystate Health

Preeti D. Nakrani, MPH, is the Medicaid ACO Program Manager for the BeHealthy Partnership at Baystate Health. Preeti received her undergraduate degree in Health: Science Society and Policy from Brandeis University, and earned an MPH from the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health.

Paul A. Pirraglia, University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate; BeHealthy Partnership; and Baystate Health

Paul A. Pirraglia, MD MPH, is Chief of the Division of General Medicine and Community Health at Baystate Health.  Dr. Pirraglia received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University, attended Cornell University Medical College where he graduated with an MD with Excellence in Research, completed his medical residency at Rhode Island Hospital/Brown University, and earned an MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health.  He is a general internist whose research focus has been on the overlap of mental illness and chronic medical diseases.



How to Cite

Schaffer, C. T., Nakrani, P., & Pirraglia, P. A. (2020). Telemental Health Care: A Review of Efficacy and Interventions. Telehealth and Medicine Today, 5(4).



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