Telepsychiatry in South Africa – present and future

Sinclair Wynchank, Jill Fortuin


The recent progress in telepsychiatry results from advancing technology and videoconferencing as an effective alternative to classic face-to-face psychiatric interaction, in terms of both results and cost-effectiveness. The wide range of applications of telepsychiatry is outlined – in particular, emergency, forensic, prison and adolescent psychiatry. Attitudes of patients and the providers of psychiatric services are discussed, and a short account is given of the place of tele-education in psychiatric teaching. The advantages of telepsychiatry are outlined and its limitations. Lastly, the limited experience and relevance of telepsychiatry in South Africa (and hence for other developing countries) are presented. The conclusion is that telepsychiatry is well established, its successes documented, and that it should be applied in planning future public health services in South Africa.



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Submitted: 13 November 2009
Published: 01 March 2010

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)