Patients’ experiences with tele-mental health services during COVID-19 in Pakistan

Nargis Asad, Shahina Pirani, Khan Osama, Tania Nadeem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although the concept of telehealth is of great interest globally, its potential has not yet been realized in Pakistan. It is therefore essential to explore the perspectives of stakeholders on the technology, particularly for mental health, to be able to increase and improve its use. Aim: To assess the perceptions and experiences of patients receiving tele-mental health services, including telepsychiatry and tele-psychotherapy, in Pakistan. Methods: For this qualitative exploratory study, we conducted in-depth interviews with 49 individuals at a tertiary care hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. Using the Cresswell framework for content analysis, we identified 3 major themes that focused on the positive and negative aspects of tele-mental health services and made suggestions for enhancing them. Results: Twenty-six of the participants received telepsychiatry, while the remaining 23 received tele-psychotherapy services. Technical literacy, cost of consultation, privacy, and therapeutic alliance were the major challenges identified by the patients, while convenience and the absence of stigma were highlighted as key facilitators for tele-mental health. Tele-consultations reduced travel and waiting time, thus improving access to healthcare. Participants suggested that the processes for booking appointments and making payments should be streamlined and the cost of tele-consultation reduced. Conclusion: This study provides insightful findings on tele-mental health services from the perspectives of patients living in an Asian culture. The major benefits highlighted were destigmatization of mental health and elimination of commuting costs and travel time. There were concerns about privacy, therapeutic alliance and availability and affordability of the technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalEastern Mediterranean Health Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Pakistan
  • patients’ experiences
  • tele-mental health
  • tele-psychotherapy
  • telepsychiatry


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