A new brief by the Ontario Science Advisory Table examines the current evidence on the effectiveness of virtual mental health care.
The report, entitled Effective Modalities of Virtual Care to Deliver Mental Health and Addictions Services in Canada, focuses on the delivery of virtual mental health care to adults by regulated health care professionals, and identifies policy recommendations to enhance their delivery.
The report found that while virtual mental health care has been found to be efficacious for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in comparison to in-person care, there is limited evidence on its use for assessment, education and cognitive rehabilitation for individuals suffering from severe mental illness.
It also flagged that current services may not provide culturally relevant care, and that we need to better understand how the social determinants of health can influence access, use and impact of virtual mental health care and data literacy.
The authors make a number of recommendations directed at the health care system, including: the need for coordinated and local planning of virtual services (in conjunction with in-person care); development of guidelines on the effective use and implementation requirements for virtual services; guidance and training on virtual delivery for clinical staff; ensuring equity consideration and client needs are incorporated into planning; and ensuring local, affordable access to internet.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table is a group of scientific experts and health system leaders who evaluate and report on emerging evidence relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform Ontario’s response. Read the full brief on their website.