mental health equity, Health equity, telehealth and health equity, health disparities

Mental Health Equity & Telehealth: Reducing Health Disparities


July 19, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Please support’s ability to deliver helpful news, opinions, and analyses by turning off your ad blocker. How

Mental health equity, an essential principle in modern healthcare, attempts to remove health disparities that disproportionately impact marginalized or underserved communities. Health equity ensures that everyone can equally obtain quality healthcare services regardless of socioeconomic or geographic conditions. Promoting telehealth and health equity demands a comprehensive, nuanced approach, including fostering digital literacy, broadening technological access, and leveraging data analytics to arm healthcare providers with the tools to reach and cater to the most underserved communities effectively.

These communities frequently comprise individuals with low income, residents of rural regions, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities, the elderly, people with limited English proficiency or low digital literacy, and those lacking adequate health insurance.

These groups often face healthcare disparities, translating into higher mortality rates, increased disease prevalence, and severity, escalated medical costs, and limited access to essential treatments and health insurance. Telehealth, with its far-reaching potential, can play a transformative role in ameliorating these deeply ingrained systemic health disparities.

Recognizing and Mitigating Telehealth Accessibility Barriers

Innovation and challenges often go hand in hand. The advent of telehealth is no exception, presenting a unique set of barriers:

  • Inadequate technology resources, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers
  • Inconsistent or unavailable internet connectivity
  • Insufficient private spaces suitable for virtual consultations
  • Limited local health professionals offering telehealth services
  • Language barriers spanning oral, written, and sign languages
  • Lack of adaptive tools and technology for individuals with disabilities.

Navigating these hurdles is crucial to fostering equity in telehealth and propelling our collective journey toward achieving health equity.

Strategic Approaches to Augment Mental Health Equity in Telehealth: Insights and Illustrations

Cultivating mental health equity through telehealth requires a combination of inventive and diverse solutions. Here are some actionable strategies, coupled with illustrative examples, to foster a more inclusive and patient-centric digital healthcare landscape.

  1. Expanding Resource Accessibility. Adapt healthcare materials to various formats and languages to cater to your diverse patient base. For instance, introduce audio or large braille versions of educational materials for the visually impaired, or provide video translations in American Sign Language for the deaf community.
  2. Adopting Visual and Simplified Communication. Leverage visual aids and simplified language in online communications to cater to patients across literacy levels. Consider using animated videos or interactive quizzes to make complex health topics more understandable. Infographics or interactive modules to explain complex health topics might also be useful.
  3. Capitalizing on Patient Satisfaction Metrics. Utilize post-consultation surveys to extract patient feedback and fine-tune your services. For instance, employ platforms like HIPAA-compliant forms generators like JotForms to capture patients’ experiences in a structured manner inexpensively. Keep your language clear and simple when gathering information to make continuous improvements. Try generating ideas for how to word your survey items using ChatGPT.
  4. Integrating Inclusive Patient Intake Forms. Use intake forms that account for technological access, patient preferences, gender neutrality, and multicultural sensitivity. Consider comfort with various tech platforms or preferred methods of communication (phone, email, text message).
  5. Assisting in the Use of Adaptive Devices. Determine if patients require assistive technologies for virtual consultations, like providing a guided tutorial on using voice-activated commands for individuals with motor disabilities. Determine if your clients and patients require assistive devices for virtual consultations, such as specialized keyboards for people with motor impairments or screen reading software for visually impaired individuals.
  6. Prioritizing Continuous Staff Education. Encourage staff to upskill in telehealth accessibility by allowing your more highly trained employees to work from home for a specified number of days per week. Encourage staff to participate in continuing education focusing on diversity and equity. Training sessions and webinars focused on the specifics of using specialized technology and advanced telehealth clinical skills to prevent emergencies can help give clinicians the confidence to work with increasing numbers of clients and patients via telehealth. Sharing informative newsletters can also maintain awareness of best practices for telehealth equity. To maintain engagement, choose telehealth training that includes interactive learning components and gamification.
  7. Building Accessibility into Technology Solutions. Incorporate accessibility features like text-to-speech, closed captioning, or magnification tools into your telehealth platforms. See’s Vendor Directory for product listings in each of these and several other categories of adaptive devices.
  8. Allowing for Extra Time. Schedule additional time during virtual consultations to support patients who might struggle with technology. This allows ample time to troubleshoot any technical issues without rushing through the consult. This process can include offering pre-appointment tech check-ins or post-appointment Q&A sessions, which can legally be conducted by admins who have signed a HIPAA-compliance document called a Business Associates Agreement.
  9. Fostering Patient Engagement. Actively involve patients in health equity planning and implementation, whether it’s through patient representation on hospital boards, inviting feedback on proposed changes in policy, or soliciting patients to share their experiences through storytelling sessions.
  10. Leveraging Team Diversity. Capitalize on your team’s diverse skills and experiences, such as drawing on community health workers’ expertise to understand cultural nuances or using multilingual staff to improve communication with non-English speaking patients.

In summary, the pursuit of mental health equity is inextricably linked with the provision of equitable telehealth services. Achieving the shared goal of reducing health disparities requires a cooperative effort from healthcare providers, policymakers, and the broader community. As telehealth increasingly reshapes the contours of our healthcare system, we stand at a unique intersection, holding the power to render healthcare more inclusive and accessible for all.

Telehealth Working from Home: Legal & Ethical Compliance

Attend this hands-on, “how-to” webinar to see how home telehealth is done both legally and ethically to serve a wide variety of populations.

How Do I Create a Therapeutic Alliance Using Telehealth?

Improve your telehealth skills with this highly focused discussion of evidence-based strategies for enhancing your telehealth telepresence and therapeutic effectiveness. Taught by 3 telehealth industry leaders!

Telehealth: How to Legally and Ethically Practice Over State Lines & International Borders

Practicing telehealth across state lines or international borders? Operate legally & ethically 100% of the time.

Disclaimer: offers information as educational material designed to inform you of issues, products, or services potentially of interest. We cannot and do not accept liability for your decisions regarding any information offered. Please conduct your due diligence before taking action. Also, the views and opinions expressed are not intended to malign any organization, company, or individual. Product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks or images are the property of their respective trademark holders. There is no affiliation, sponsorship, or partnership suggested by using these brands unless contained in an ad. Some of’s blog content is generated with the assistance of ChatGPT. We do not and cannot offer legal, ethical, billing technical, medical, or therapeutic advice. Use of this site constitutes your agreement to Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Register for Free

Receive Any of Our 57 FREE Newsletters!


Most Popular Blog Topics

You May Also Like…