Getting mental health care — virtually — at your regular doctor’s office
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
Julia Sherrill is a member of NASW-NC.
Lincolnton, N.C. — Panic attacks had begun to overwhelm Matty Pitts, and he’d shown up at his doctor’s office for help. The physician quickly connected the 22-year-old to a therapist — via computer.
For the next 25 minutes, Pitts, sitting in a quiet exam room at Lincoln Family Practice in a rural county northwest of Charlotte, talked face to face with Julia Sherrill, who was on duty 40 miles away in Davidson. He told her about “the rough spot” he’d been having. A breakup with his longtime girlfriend. His father’s death two years ago.
When the session ended, a flurry of behind-the-scenes phone consultations took place among therapist, doctor and an on-call psychiatrist working in a third location. And just like that, Pitts got a new prescription and a plan for follow-up. Sherrill was “very understanding,” the young man said later. He’d never met before with a mental health professional. “I feel like it helped.”
The family practice, part of the Carolinas Healthcare System, is on the front line of an ambitious plan to integrate mental and physical health care via technology. Integration has become the mantra of many systems nationwide, but Carolinas’ work relies on virtual teams of specialists collaborating with its primary care practices.
Read rest of Washington Post article here.