How to Access Mental Health Services Using Telehealth

4/21/2020

​​To slow the spread of COVID-19 and support BC's physical distancing rules, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is temporarily restricting all in-person mental health appointments. Instead, clients and mental health providers are encouraged to use telehealth for counselling sessions. Mental health benefits coverage remains the same.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver health care services.

Counselling sessions delivered using telehealth can be done over the phone or using videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime). FNHA does not consider texting and emailing to be telehealth.

How Do I Set Up a Telehealth Appointment?

Step 1: Contact your mental health provider to see if you can schedule a virtual counselling appointment. When you talk to your provider, you should discuss what telehealth option they like and also explain what you feel the most comfortable with.

As long as you are seeing a mental health ​provider who is registered with Health Benefits, all telehealth sessions are fully covered.

Step 2: Prepare for your telehealth appointment:

 ​Have a fully charged device.

 Try to find a private room where you feel comfortable, and where you will not be overheard by other members of your household.

 ​Use a headset or earbuds to avoid echos and protect your privacy.

Step 3: Follow any instructions from your provider about downloading or logging on to the videoconferencing system.

*It is important to remember that not being available for the call or video as planned is considered a no-show appointment. Providers can charge clients for no-show appointments.

If you have any questions or need additional support to access mental health services using telehealth, please call Health Benefits at 1.855.550.5454.

Considerations

Privacy

In general, telehealth is less private than in-person appointments. Each video conferencing system (e.g. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime) has its own privacy and data security policies. Also, unlike an in-person appointment where you are in a private office, there may be less physical privacy in your home. If there are other people in your household, you may have to take extra steps so that they do not overhear your conversation.

FNHA Health Benefits expects all mental health providers to follow the telehealth guidelines of their professional body. You should talk to your provider if you have any concerns about your privacy. If you feel that your provider has not taken the necessary steps to protect your privacy, you can submit a formal complaint to quality@fnha.ca.

Accessibility

You should use the telehealth option that you feel the most comfortable with, but it is also important to think about what technology is accessible to you. For example, if your internet does not always work or you're not sure if you will have private access to a computer, it may be better to schedule a phone call instead of using Skype.

Your Rights as a Clients

You can choose to hold your counselling ses​sions over telehealth or reschedule for an in-person session at a later date. Even if you start using telehealth, you can stop at any time.

If it is your first appointment with a new provider, remember that you can decide if the provider is the right fit for you. You have the right to switch to another provider at any time.

Contact from Health Benefits

Health Benefits will be auditing some providers to ensure they are billing appropriately for telehealth appointments during this time. If you schedule any telehealth appointments, please be aware that Health Benefits may contact you to confirm your session. Please see Health Benefits' privacy statement here.

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