How To Access Online Therapy And Mental Health Care While You’re Stuck At Home
Telehealth is providing healthcare to patients in the comfort of their own homes. Telehealth is currently being used as an effective approach for communication, counselling, and consultation worldwide during COVID-19.
Mental healthcare is considered an essential service during the lockdown period, and the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) has assured patients that public and private health sector mental health services remain open for both scheduled appointments and emergencies, and where possible some practitioners have shifted to online consultations.
What is telehealth?
In South Africa, some practitioners have switched to “telehealth” as a contingency plan during the lockdown. Telehealth refers to the usage of electronic and telecommunications to provide care and services. What this means is that psychiatrists and psychologists have been granted permission by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), to conduct remote consultations via telephone or online platforms such as Zoom.
Dr. Kagisho Maaroganye, SASOP board member and public sector national convenor said as an essential service, mental healthcare providers including psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, and occupational therapists are on duty and pharmacies, depots and suppliers are open to ensure continued availability of medication.
From the experts
Professor Renata Schoeman, the board member of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG), said mental wellbeing is vital in this time of crisis, whether or not one is suffering from a mental illness, as lockdown can aggravate feelings of isolation — even more so for those already struggling with mental health issues.
Dr. Maaroganye also advised staying informed by accessing credible information sources, such as the government’s site and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and not to seek constant updates but rather twice a day, to avoid feeling overwhelmed and heightening anxiety.
Where to get help
- South African Depression Anxiety Group (SADAG): 0800 21 22 23 / 0800 70 80 90. SADAG WhatsApp support (9 am-4 pm): 076 882 2775 / or SMS 31393 or 32312 and a counsellor will call you back
- Lifeline South Africa: 0861 322 322
- Department of Health: 060 012 3456 (WhatsApp “hi” for access to comprehensive COVID-19 information)
- National Institute for Communicable Diseases toll-free COVID-19 hotline: 0800 0299 299