A Sound Mind: Telehealth

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 12:22 PM EDT
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The onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic highlighted the need for flexibility in regards to remote medical assessments and treatment. In our ongoing series, A Sound Mind, Brian Bouchard looks at the role of Telehealth in mental health treatment.

“Initially it went down, right, when everybody went into lockdown”

Michelle Ferris, Chief Operations Officer for AMHC says after the initial fear of the pandemic wore off, those seeking mental health services started to embrace telehealth options.

“What we saw is because of telehealth and meeting with individuals over the computer, device, phone, tablet. Actually our show rate, meaning the amount of people who were really showing up for their appointments and engaging in treatment increased just because I think it became more easily accessible.”

“In the start of the pandemic, we all had our “What do we do?” “How do we continue to do business?” “Is it safe?”. And we started seeing more and more people in the emergency department, more and more people were calling from the community, more and more schools were calling, we were getting more calls about kids who were struggling. Telehealth for crisis was born during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, telehealth wasn’t an option for us.”

Sarah Wright, Program Director of Crisis Services says although telehealth isn’t perfect it can help expedite assessments of individuals in crisis.

“Telehealth certainly is a tool in the toolbelt, it is not the tool to be used all the time from the toolbelt but it’s nice to have it there when you need it. And certainly in this day and age of short staffing, it has been a useful tool. From an assessment perspective, it’s better to do an assessment, even if that assessment is over telehealth versus somebody waiting hours for an in-person response because the schedule is just that thin that day.”

“It really works for some people who may have challenges with transportation, childcare, someone to watch the kids so you can come into your appointments, maybe they don’t have gas money to make it to the office, so we really want to make sure that we continue to offer services in that way.” says Ferris.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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