Clinicians’ perceptions of telephone-delivered mental health services

Micaela Mercado, Virna Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The adoption of telephone-delivered mental health services (TDMHS) for scaling collaborative care or addressing access to mental health services in routine primary care practice is gradual despite the needs of the population. Although there are multi-level factors associated with efficient implementation of collaborative care, there is limited understanding of clinicians’ perceptions, experiences and acceptability providing mental health treatment exclusively over the telephone. The purpose of this paper is to explore behavioral health clinicians’ delivery of mental health services over the telephone within primary care settings. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative study explored behavioral health professionals’ perceptions and experiences providing remote, TDMHS. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 11 clinicians in New York, California and Arizona who provided collaborative care services to patients exclusively over the telephone. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and analyzed using qualitative content analysis methods. Findings: Three main themes and associated subthemes emerged from the analyses. The first theme was participants’ perceptions of TDMHS prior to implementation relating to patient characteristics, patient engagement and comparison to in-person therapy. The second main theme identified was participants’ experiences implementing TDMHS with subthemes relating to benefits, quality of care, gaps in care and concerns implementing TDMHS. The final theme that emerged from the analysis was participants’ perceived acceptability of TDMHS by patients. Research limitations/implications: The small sample size limits the generalizability of these findings. Practical implications: Mental health services delivered over the telephone are perceived as feasible and acceptable by behavioral health clinicians. Originality/value: This study contributes to gaps in research about behavioral health clinicians’ beliefs, uptake and acceptability toward mental health services delivered exclusively over the telephone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to mental health care
  • Behavioural health
  • Behavioural health clinician
  • Collaborative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Education
  • Health Policy
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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