10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Telehealth Session
By W. Andrew Mullane, Ph.D.,
Director of Innovation, Integration, and Community Partnerships at Westchester Jewish Community Services
Once the Covid pandemic started in March 2020, at Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), the largest provider of outpatient, licensed, community-based behavioral health services in Westchester county, our clinicians instantly pivoted to providing services remotely, via telehealth. Just in the past year, we have provided over 90,000 mental health services, via in-person, secure video, and phone sessions.
At a time when anxiety and depression have been on the rise, having access to mental health care via telehealth has been a lifesaver, according to many of our clients. It has allowed people to access treatment more easily, reducing their travel time, eliminating obstacles to those who have difficulty accessing transportation, and reducing treatment disruptions if, for instance, a client needs to stay home due to illness or child care responsibilities.
In order to help make the most of telehealth sessions, we offer the following 10 tips:
1. Gather all the information you might need before your appointment. This may include a list of your medications (with dosages), medical conditions, problems and symptoms you want to address, and a list of questions for the healthcare practitioner.
2. Find a private spot in your home so you feel comfortable and can talk openly to your healthcare provider.
3. Make sure you know in advance if your appointment is supposed to be by phone or video chat.
4. Be sure that you are able to accept blocked calls since your provider may need to call you from a blocked number.
5. Accept any call that comes into your phone around the time of your appointment, irrespective of whether your appointment is supposed to be by phone or video chat because it could be your provider calling you.
6. If you are going to have a video chat appointment, make sure the lighting in the room is good so your provider can see you.
7. Make sure your technology is ready and reliable. Have a secure and dependable Wi-Fi connection if your telehealth appointment is by video chat. If you are doing your telehealth visit by cell phone, make sure you have a good cellular signal.
8. Mute your phone and eliminate any other distractions so you can focus on your session with your provider.
9. Give yourself extra time in case the appointment starts late or runs over its scheduled time.
10. Take a deep breath when you begin your session. Remember that the provider you are speaking to is there to help, not judge you. Think of your time with your provider as time spent talking to a trusted friend who is there to help you.
For information about WJCS mental health services, please go to: https://www.wjcs.com/services/mental-health/