Healthcare providers use telemedicine to provide mental healthcare

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Getting treatment for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can be difficult because of the distance to a provider or because of the cost of treatment. But computers and tablets are changing that.

Last year, the Barren River Initiative to Get Healthy, or BRIGHT, recommended using telemedicine, which involves talking to a healthcare provider through wireless tablets and phones, as a way to make it easier to get counselling and treat mental health issues.

One local agency is making that happen. LifeSkills is now using telemedicine as a way to see patients in clinics even when a therapist or social worker has to be miles away.

Mark Saderholm, a director with LifeSkills, said a large portion of patient visits are now carried out through telemedicine and it helps connect patients and providers in a more timely manner. He said often, it means matching up a patient with a provider that can be covered under an insurance plan so the financial impact may be lessened.

Melanie Watts, also with LifeSkills, said good mental health fits into a person’s overall wellness. She said when people aren’t healthy mentally, they may lose interest in keeping the rest of themselves healthy, and jobs and relationships with family members and friends suffer as well.