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Mental health, Online, Psychiatry, Telehealth, Video consultations



  1. Painter, Jon PhD
  2. Turner, James PhD
  3. Procter, Paula M. MSc


During the COVID-19 pandemic, some mental healthcare in the United Kingdom has moved online, with more likely to follow. The current evidence base for video consultations is modest; hence, this study seeks to aid decision-makers by reporting on one large National Health Service mental health trust's video-consultation pilot project. Patients' choices/preferences were gathered via online forms; and staff's views, through a focus group. The typical patient was female, 26 years old, living in a deprived locality. Consultations typically lasted 37 minutes, saving patients 0-30 minutes of travel and [pounds]0-[pounds]3.00. Satisfaction was high, and the software was intuitive. Audio quality varied, but patients felt able to disclose "as if in person," were willing to use video consultation again, and found them more preferable than home visits and clinic attendance. Staff could foresee benefits but were concerned for their therapeutic relationships and were avoidant without familiarization, training, clinical coaching, and managerial reassurances especially regarding high-risk patients/situations. They argued video consultation would not suit all patients and should be used according to individual need. We found COVID-19 is necessitating staff to adopt video consultation and that patients are satisfied. However, unless staff's concerns are resolved, enabling them to use their full repertoire of interpersonal skills, therapeutic relationships will trump efficiency and video consultations may not remain their treatment modality of choice.