Current practice with e-mental health and future standards

E-mental health is the future for improved mental health delivery at all stages of the patient journey. It is particularly effective for the delivery of early interventions for young people and for mental health care to people without access to healthcare centers. Interesting perspectives on many opportunities presented by e-mental health worldwide were provided by experts at WCP21. 

Moving mental health care delivery from hospital to home

Next step is mental health care delivery via mobile devices to the patient’s home  

Over the past 30 years, the concept of community health care led to a shift in the delivery of mental health care from hospitals to community centers, said Professor Umberto Volpe, Antona, Italy.

The next step is from the hospital to the patient’s home with mental health care delivery via a mobile device.1

COVID-19 has accelerated this digital healthcare revolution, with many experts promoting an increasing use of telemedicine in the early days of COVID-19. It was argued that COVID-19 was providing the opportunity to “accelerate and bend the curve” on digital health,2 explained Professor Volpe, who highlighted a framework for telemedicine used during the COVID-19 pandemic ­­that could be adapted for large scale mental public health.3

e-mental health will result in a radical transformation in the practice of psychiatry globally

Professor Volpe added that most of what a psychiatrist does can be carried out efficiently online, and telemedicine has now become a standard way for psychiatrists to communicate with their patients.

e-mental health is the new normal and will result in a radical transformation in the practice of psychiatry globally, but radical transformation often brings inequality in the dissemination of practice,4–6 said Professor Volpe:

Telemedicine is now a standard way for psychiatrists to communicate with their patients

Several e-mental health initiatives have been launched in Europe, and standardization and quality training are ongoing in Europe and worldwide. However, in South-East Asia, there is a need to adapt services, infrastructures, administrative settings, technical support and equipment to digital health settings, Professor Volpe explained.

Greater international collaboration is therefore needed to achieve global digital psychiatry.


Increased capacity and quality of care

e-mental health offers many opportunities for early intervention strategies

e-mental health is far more than videoconferencing, said Professor RM Krausz, Vancouver, Canada. It is leading to a paradigm shift in how we provide and deliver mental health.

He highlighted its particular importance in reaching out to and engaging young people for early intervention strategies.

“Online” is the preferred means of communication for young people well versed in online gaming and delivery of services, so e-mental health provides many opportunities to increase capacity and quality of care, said Professor Krausz.

A virtual clinic can help address the shortage of psychiatrists globally

He described a future of integrated mental health care provision5,6 through:

  • A virtual clinic, which can help address the shortage of psychiatrists globally, and even be used across borders
  • Web platform with easily accessible online resources including gaming tools to simulate risk and the influence of behavior on avoiding risk, online psychotherapy
  • Face-to-face consultations

Professor Krausz concluded with three messages — e-mental health is the new normal, it is a global challenge, and it will lead to a paradigm shift in mental health provision and delivery.6

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.


  1. Dorsey ER, Topol EJ. Telemedicine 2020 and the next decade. Lancet 2020;395:859.
  2. Torous J, et al. Digital mental health and COVID-19: Using technology today to accelerate the curve on access and quality tomorrow. JMIR Ment Health 2020;7(3):e18848.
  3. Ohannessian R, et al. Global telemedicine implementation and integration within health systems to fight the COVID-19 pandemic: a call to action. JMIR Public Health Surveill 2020; 6(2):e18810.
  4. Strudwick G, et al. Advancing e-mental health in Canada: report from a multistakeholder meeting. JMIR Ment Health 2020;7(4):e19360.
  5. Krausz M, et al. (2016) From telehealth to an interactive virtual clinic. In: Mucic D., Hilty D. (eds) e-Mental Health. Springer, Cham.
  6. Krausz M, et al. Emergency response to COVID-19 in Canada: Platform development and implementation for eHealth in crisis management. JMIR Public Health Surveill 2020;6(2):e18995.