Few Latinos Utilize Telemental Health Resources


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Chances are good you or someone you know has a mental health issue.

In fact, during any given year, about 1 in every 4 people in the United States has a diagnosable disorder, two-thirds of which goes untreated, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Latinos report the highest stress across money, employment, family responsibilities, and health concerns, a recent survey reported. What’s worse, many are unable to get the help they need to either treat their conditions or even get a diagnosis.

wall street journal photo of telemedicine
Telemedicine illustration from the Wall Street Journal

Telemedicine is an emerging answer to these issues.

Doctors are increasingly  “linking up” with their patients by phone, email, and webcam more frequently thanks to faster Internet connections. This can reduce some of the cost and rising need for healthcare services, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

Patients now use phones and devices to relay their blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs to their doctors, allowing health management from home.

In April 2017, the American Telemedicine Association issued new guidelines that allow for treatment of mental and behavioral health services to children and adolescents using videoconferencing. The American Medical Association has also adopted guidelines to inform how doctors interact with patients in a virtual setting.

Despite the new guidelines, far too few of those needing mental or behavioral health assistance take advantage of telemental health.

Less than 15% of all rural beneficiaries received treatment via telemedicine.

More Latinos are utilizing the Internet than ever before; however, as with “traditional” healthcare, obstacles are in place that keep many Latinos from accessing telehealth options. Language barriers and social stigmas continue to be the chief “culprits” that prevent them from obtaining mental health help.

“[Health care] represents a very big hole in the bottom of the boat, and it’s costing the government a lot of money,” Marlene Maheu, executive director of the TeleMental Health Institute, told Healthcare Dive. “Because technology can deal with these issues, it’s so available and it’s so inexpensive, it only makes sense to use it.”

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of Latino youth have depressive symptoms, more than any other group besides Native American youth

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