Students often experience a serious need for mental and physical health care but many of people within this population are unable to get the care that they need. Fortunately, the world of health care is evolving in attempt to alleviate this concern through the use of telehealth. Being able to use technology within schools to provide students with the resources they need has a number of advantages and aims to improve overall student wellness. Before discussing the advantages of school-based telemedicine, it is important to address the reasons why students may need care. As adults, we tend to discredit many of the concerns of adolescents, but studies have shown that modern high school students are under significantly more stress than previous generations were during that time. These excessive stress-levels can result in decreased mental health, which can in turn result in poorer physical health. Mental health issues can be manifested in the form of behavioral issues, depression, anxiety, or aggression. Luckily, all of these issues can be mended with proper care, but many adolescents may not know how to access such treatment. Stress can also manifest itself in physical ways, such as extreme weight gain or loss or decreased immune function. Weight gain and obesity are pervasive problems that can effectively be addressed through these programs and greatly improve student wellness. Since weight loss has a number of different causes and is very personal, it is best for the student to be able to have regular appointments in a one-on-one setting.
One of the main barriers that keeps students from obtaining care is physical distance. By offering these students school-based telemedicine, the problem of logistics can be entirely eliminated. Their appointments will be on school campus, which is where they should be on school days. This means that they don’t have to arrange for a ride to a separate location, which will likely save their parents time as well. More importantly it means that rather than being out of class for a one hour appointment plus forty-five minutes of commute and potential wait time the student will only miss the time that is actually spent in their appointment. Often, when a child is ill but the symptoms don’t appear to be severe, the parent and the student will delay seeking treatment to avoid missing work or school. Sometimes this approach doesn’t haven’t any negative consequences, but there are other times when a serious condition is lurking under seemingly minor symptoms. If telehealth is available, these students can schedule an appointment and get their symptoms checked while they are at school. This saves a lot of time for both the parent and the student while still providing an ease of mind that there isn’t a serious concern. Many specialists are located so far away that parents will sometimes only have time to take their child to the appointment or school but not travel back and forth to both, which equates to the child missing an entire day. An advantage of telehealth is that a wide-range of practitioners can be available to the students at one time to address concerns within one convenient location. These professionals can also provide literature and various resources to the students to improve their knowledge of health.
School-based telemedicine can greatly enhance student wellness where it is applied. It also has offered school districts and parents economic benefits because of the convenience it offers.