Houston Matters

The pros and cons of online mental health services

Online mental health services have blossomed since the pandemic started. Many providers think that’s mostly a good thing, but there are still some concerns.


There are many options for mental health services today.


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Telehealth services saw a massive increase following the initial lockdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, telehealth expanded by 15 times the pre-pandemic level between 2020 and 2021 in five states.

With this rapid growth of services also came a number of digital apps targeted at mental health care, some offering direct connections to licensed therapists and psychologists.

Dr. John Torous is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who has closely followed the developments in digital mental health services. For him, there is a lot to be excited about with telehealth but also a number of challenges and questions that still need answering.

Recently, Dr. Torous led a training on navigating the digital landscape for healthcare providers, with participants from the Menninger Clinic, the Houston Mayor’s Office, Houston Veterans Affairs, and Easter Seals of Greater Houston.

Dr. Michelle Patriquin is a senior psychologist and Director of Research at the Menninger Clinic, and she is optimistic about Houston’s role as a leader in telehealth and mental health services.

In the audio above, producer Joshua Zinn talks with Dr. Torous and Dr. Patriquin about the pros and cons of online mental health care and how best to answer consumers’ questions about the services available.

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Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on Houston Public Media Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews...

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