Integration of online treatment into the “new normal” in mental health care in post–COVID-19 times: Exploratory qualitative study

J. J. P. A. Bierbooms*, M. van Haaren, W. A. IJsselsteijn, Y. A. W. de Kort, M. Feijt, I. M. B. Bongers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background:

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated an immediate and large-scale uptake of online treatment for mental health care. However, there is uncertainty about what the “new normal” in mental health care will be like in post–COVID-19 times. To what extent will the experiences gained during the pandemic influence a sustainable adoption and implementation of online mental health care treatment in the future?

Objective:

In this paper, we aim to formulate expectations with regard to the sustainability of online mental health care after COVID-19.

Methods:

In an interview study, 11 mental health care professionals were asked about their experiences and expectations for the future. Participants were recruited from a mental health care organization in the Netherlands. The interviews took place between April 7-30, 2020, at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in the Netherlands. The data were analyzed using a thematic coding method.

Results:

From the interviews, we learn that the new normal in mental health care will most likely consist of more blended treatments. Due to skill enhancement and (unexpected) positive experiences with online treatment, an increase in adoption is likely to take place. However, not all experiences promise a successful and sustainable upscaling of online treatment in the future. Mental health care professionals are learning that not all clients are able to benefit from this type of treatment.

Conclusions:

Sustainable upscaling of online mental health care requires customized solutions, investments in technology, and flexibility of mental health care providers. Online treatment could work for those who are open to it, but many factors influence whether it will work in specific situations. There is work to be done before online treatment is inherently part of mental health care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21344
Number of pages7
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume4
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • mental health care
  • online treatment
  • sustainability

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