To really have a population-level impact on the mental health of the country, we must meet people right where they are—where they live, work and commune. Rural and other underserved, difficult to access communities pose a unique problem then. How exactly do we get to them? And how do we get them to the resources they need?
In one survey of more than a thousand rural communities of 2,500 to 20,000 people, 75% lacked a psychiatrist, and 95% lacked a child psychologist. To reach these people living in underserved areas, and to deliver the mental health care they need, we have to find new ways to design our systems of care around the patient. A new, and exciting tool in patient-centric care is Telepsychiatry.
The growing field of Telehealth is finding new ways to bridge physical distance in order to provide care through the use of new communication technologies, often via live, interactive video conferencing. Imagine, in a remote part of the country, where once a trip to the nearest psychiatrist may have meant a three-hour drive, and an entire day out from work, a telepsychiatrist could instead reach his or her patient, right in their moment of need, right in their community, through a monitor, from many miles away.
Well Being Trust’s own Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Arpan Waghray, MD, is also the Systems Medical Director in Telepsychiatry Behavioral Health at Providence St. Joseph Health, Washington. He’s helping lead the way forward in Telemental Health, to bring care to the 15 some million people living in rural communities who struggle with substance dependence, mental illness, and medical-psychiatric co-occurring conditions, who don’t know where to turn for the help they need.
Watch the video below to hear from Dr. Waghray as he discusses five real patients, and how telehealth could make all the difference in their stories.