About this Research Topic
The imperative to increase healthcare access, efficiency and effectiveness is nearly impossible to meet without reliance on technology. Telemedicine tools now include video, e-mail, text messaging, apps, and other mobile health modalities, deployed synchronously, asynchronously and in hybrid combinations to offer assessment, consultation, direct treatment, and integrated care.
Within telemedicine, mental health is particularly well suited to technology platforms due to several inherent factors: provider shortages that are often more acute than in other specialties; the relatively reduced need for laboratory tests, imaging studies and physical examinations; the stigma still attached to mental illness; and diagnosis-specific obstacles that can complicate in person visits (e.g., pronounced fear in social anxiety disorder). The need to increase access, efficiency and effectiveness, combined with the relative ease of translating mental health interventions to technology-mediated delivery, have led researchers to explore various platforms, including: computerized cognitive behavioral therapy; online psychotherapy and online psychopharmacology; mobile therapy; virtual/augmented reality exposure therapy; serious games; and artificial intelligence. Yet, despite often positive efficacy data and an ever more technology-reliant lifestyle, the reach of telemental health remains relatively limited in comparison with its potential.
We aim to capture the current status of digital and telecommunications technologies in mental health and the field’s future trends and directions. Recently published data—as well as newly introduced platforms—have put both the promise and challenges of telemental health in sharp focus, making this an opportune time to compile a collection of high-quality, evidence-based and diverse articles that touch on various aspects of this technology revolution.
This Research Topic seeks submissions that examine digital mental health interventions across different platforms and modes of delivery. The scope is broad to reflect the richness of the field and the many questions it raises: standalone vs. supported models; comparisons with “traditional” modalities; psychotherapeutic vs. psychopharmacological interventions; efficacy; patient attrition; cost-effectiveness; ethical issues; and insurer and malpractice coverage.
Besides clinical trials, we welcome systematic reviews and evidence-driven expert commentaries that critically assess the present state of research to predict and advise on future directions. While most pieces in this Research Topic will focus on treatment delivery, related topics such as technology-facilitated diagnostics, preventative or health promotion interventions, economic models, reporting and taxonomy guidelines, or symptom-tracking and “Big Data”-driven precision health models will be considered.
*Disclosures: Dr. Aboujaoude is an adviser to Limbix Health. Dr. Gega, Dr. Hilty and Dr. Parish disclosed no potential conflict of interest.
Keywords: telepsychiatry, telemedicine, psychotherapy, technology, telemental health
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.