Telemental health for children and adolescents.

Publication Date: 
Dec 08, 2015

Most children and adolescents across the USA fail to receive adequate mental health services, especially in rural or underserved communities. The supply of child and adolescent psychiatrists is insufficient for the number of children in need of services and is not anticipated to grow. This calls for novel approaches to mental health care. Telemental health (TMH) offers one approach to increase access. TMH programmes serving young people are developing rapidly and available studies demonstrate that these services are feasible, acceptable, sustainable and likely as effective as in-person services. TMH services are utilized in clinical settings to provide direct care and consultation to primary care providers (PCPs), as well as in non-traditional settings, such as schools, correctional facilities and the home. Delivery of services to young people through TMH requires several adjustments to practice with adults regarding the model of care, cultural values, participating adults, rapport-building, pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Additional infrastructure accommodations at the patient site include space and staffing to conduct developmentally appropriate evaluations and treatment planning with parents, other providers, and community services. For TMH to optimally impact young people's access to mental health care, collaborative models of care are needed to support PCPs as frontline mental health-care providers, thereby effectively expanding the child and adolescent mental health workforce.