What can I consider with regard to continuing treatment for patients with serious mental illness in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

Most people with serious mental illness use a mobile phone. A majority use a smartphone. (See this report.) This is a good time for clinicians to consider using these to provide interventions and telehealth. A large proportion of people with serious mental illness can use the same apps and mobile communications as everyone else. A minority would benefit from having apps and communication that are designed to accommodate cognitive disabilities and other clinical issues. Telehealth can be used with almost all people with serious mental illness. Medicare recently temporarily waived its prohibition on paying for telehealth services. Medicaid depends on the state.

With regard to mobile health, there are many applications out there, the ones that work best combine mobile with human contact. Clinicians should attend to uncertain efficacy of apps and limitations of their privacy policies. SMI Adviser is available for specific implementation and telehealth questions as are telehealth resource centers:

See also the American Psychiatric Association Telepsychiatry Toolkit.

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