Rural Mental Health Care During a Global Health Pandemic: Addressing and Supporting the Rapid Transition to Tele-Mental Health
Journal of Rural Mental Health
The adoption of tele-mental health by mental health professionals has been slow, especially in rural areas. Prior to 2020, less than half of mental health agencies offered tele-mental health for patients. In response to the global health pandemic in March of 2020, mental health therapists across the U.S. were challenged to make the rapid shift to tele-mental health to provide patient care. Given the lack of adoption of tele-mental health previously, immediate training in tele-mental health was needed. This article describes collaborative efforts between two mental health technology transfer centers and one addiction technology transfer center in rural regions of the U.S. in response to the rapid adoption of remote technologies to provide mental health services. A learning series of real-time tele-mental health trainings and supplemental materials were offered beginning in March 2020 to support this transition. A weekly learning series covered a variety of topics relevant to telehealth including technology basics, billing, state legislation, and working with children and adolescents. Given the demand of these initial training sessions, additional trainings were requested by agencies outside the regional technology transfer centers. To date, there have been more than 13,000 views of the tele-mental health webpage which includes recorded training sessions, handouts, and supplemental tele-mental health materials. The article also provides a summary of the questions and concerns highlighted by the more than 4,500 providers who joined the learning series, noting key rural and urban clinical and structural barriers to providing virtual care.
This article was originally published in the Journal of Rural Mental Health
Schroeder, S., Roberts, H., Heitkamp, T., Clarke, B., Gotham, H. J. & Franta, E. (2021). Rural mental health care during a global health pandemic: Addressing and supporting the rapid transition to tele-mental health. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 45(1), 1–13. doi: 10.1037/rmh0000169
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