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Online Counseling Rarely Available

The dearth of mental health services for individuals in need is a debit our nation has felt for at least twenty years, if not indefinitely. A new national survey of commercial health plans has found that most plans provide online information regarding mental health and substance abuse but few provide clinical services such as counseling via the Internet.

This finding is in contrast to the sophisticated web-based disease management intervention provided by many carriers for physical conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and asthma.

The nationally representative health plan survey, published in Psychiatric Services, and led by Dr. Constance Horgan at Brandeis University, is one of the first to examine the prevalence of health plan-sponsored online resources for behavioral health.

“Our study is part of an ongoing effort to determine how health insurers allocate resources for alcohol and substance abuse treatment—historically an undermet need,” said Horgan.

The survey sampled 60 nationally representative markets and included health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and point-of-service plans.

Most private health plans offered online provider directories; 81 percent offered educational information; two thirds offered behavioral self-assessment tools, and almost half offered online referral. About one-third offered personalized responses to questions or problems. Only two percent offered online counseling.

“Delivering behavioral health services such as counseling certainly raises more complex clinical, professional, privacy, and legal issues, than, for example, offering educational information,” said Horgan.

“At least in the short term, increasing use of Internet-based tools designed to facilitate and complement, rather than replace, traditional clinical services seems most likely.”

Source: Brandeis University

Online Counseling Rarely Available

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Online Counseling Rarely Available. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/03/01/online-counseling-rarely-available/658.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.