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Using HIPAA compliant emails to overcome mental health stigma

Using HIPAA compliant emails to overcome mental health stigma

Providers should tailor their HIPAA compliant emails to address the different types of stigmas to help individuals overcome barriers to mental health care.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains “More than half of people with mental illness don't receive help for their disorders. Often, people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to concerns about being treated differently or fears of losing their jobs and livelihoodThat's because stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against people with mental illness are still very much a problem.”

Furthermore, they identify three types of stigmas:

  • Public stigma involves the negative or discriminatory attitudes that others may have about mental illness.
  • Self-stigma refers to the negative attitudes, including internalized shame, that people with mental illness may have about their own condition.
  • Structural stigma is more systemic, involving policies of government and private organizations that intentionally or unintentionally limit opportunities for people with mental illness.”


Using HIPAA compliant emails

Overcoming barriers to care

HIPAA compliant emails are a confidential way to address public stigma, shielding individuals from public scrutiny and allowing them to reach out for help without fear of stigma. 

For example, a person experiencing symptoms of depression may hesitate to visit a therapist's office due to concerns about being perceived as "weakby their peers. Their therapist can then use HIPAA compliant emails, to discreetly contact the person, overcoming public stigma and accessing the support they need to improve their mental well-being.


Convenient and accessible support

HIPAA compliant emails provide a convenient and accessible avenue for individuals to engage with mental health professionals without confronting their own self-stigma directly. 

For instance, someone struggling with anxiety may feel embarrassed about discussing their symptoms face-to-face with a therapist. They can then use HIPAA compliant emails to express themselves more freely and gradually overcome their self-stigma, paving the way for deeper engagement in therapy and greater self-acceptance.


Continuity of care

HIPAA compliant emails help mitigate structural stigma by ensuring continuity of care, regardless of external factors. 

For example, a person living in a rural area with limited access to mental health facilities may face challenges in receiving timely treatment for their condition. Their therapist can then use HIPAA compliant emails to maintain regular contact, reducing the effects of structural stigma and receiving consistent support to manage their mental health effectively.



The APA further suggests provider organizations “Tailor programs/approaches”.

HIPAA compliant emails allow providers to deliver personalized support by tailoring their communications to individuals' specific needs, preferences, and challenges.

Furthermore, providers can customize the content and tone of their emails to create a more supportive and inclusive environment. For example, providers can use patient-specific information to email targeted resources and recommendations, ultimately improving the overall quality of care and patient experience.

Go deeper: Why personalized healthcare emails are better


Education and resources

Providers can use HIPAA compliant emails to send educational materials and resources tailored to patient needs, regardless of structural barriers.

For example, a person from a marginalized community may struggle to find culturally sensitive information about mental health in their local area. Their therapist can send them personalized resources to address their challenges, like articles, videos, or support groups specific to their cultural background and needs. This can help improve the patient's understanding and access to mental health resources, ultimately leading to better outcomes in their treatment. 



How can HIPAA compliant emails help individuals manage their mental health?

HIPAA compliant emails can help individuals by providing access to personalized resources, education, and support.


Is it safe to discuss mental health issues over standard email?

No, standard email is not inherently secure, so discussing sensitive mental health information over email may pose privacy risks. Providers must use a HIPAA compliant email platform, like Paubox, to safeguard patients’ protected health information (PHI) during transit and at rest.


Can HIPAA compliant emails be personalized in mental health care?

Yes, providers can personalize HIPAA compliant emails to ensure that individuals receive support that is relevant to their circumstances, promoting engagement and positive outcomes.

Related: Improving mental healthcare through HIPAA compliant email marketing

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