VICTORIA - Children and teenagers with mental-health challenges in northern B.C. are receiving specialized support sooner through the use of Telehealth videoconferencing.
Initially a pilot project in Prince Rupert, Smithers and Terrace last year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development - in partnership with BC Mental Health & Addiction Services (BCMHAS), an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority - is now using videoconferencing equipment to connect young people in several northern communities to psychiatrists at Children's and Women's Health Centre of BC in Vancouver.
The success of the pilot project has resulted in the service being expanded to Hazelton, Houston, Telkwa and Kitwanga. Patients are referred through their family physicians.
The telepsychiatry service has resulted in shorter wait times for families who might otherwise need to travel or wait for a psychiatrist to visit their community. Wait times have been reduced from several months to several weeks - and in some cases, to a few days. Over the last eight months, almost 50 children and youth in these communities have been able to see a psychiatrist from Vancouver through videoconferencing.
Telehealth also benefits mental-health workers in rural and remote communities who are able to access support from specialists in Vancouver.
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"The way we're using Telehealth services in these communities means children, teens and their families are getting the mental-health support they need sooner - and closer to home. They can receive specialty consultation in their own community rather than travelling to larger cities, such as Prince George or Vancouver."
"The ministry is committed to improving access to specialized services in rural and remote regions of the province."
Dr. Jana Davidson, vice president medical affairs, psychiatrist in chief, BC Mental Health & Addiction Services, PHSA -
"Helping children and their families in their home communities allows them to focus on treatment rather than logistics and uses technology in a way that supports the best-quality patient care in an innovative, collaborative and sustainable way."
"A Telehealth appointment with Child and Youth Mental Health includes an education component about Telehealth, an assessment, recommendations and a treatment plan. Following the appointment, a comprehensive report is sent to the youth's referring physician and their mental-health team."
- Telehealth uses secure, live videoconferencing and supporting technologies to connect health-care providers, health-care recipients and health educators in touch across distances.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development invests approximately $94 million annually to address child and youth mental-health and substance-use challenges - this includes community child and youth mental-health services, youth forensic psychiatric services, the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre and substance-use services in the youth justice system.
- Currently more than 20,000 children and teens receive community mental-health services annually - approximately double the number that received services in 2003.
- On Nov. 1, 2010, the B.C. government released a comprehensive 10-year plan to address mental health and substance use across the lifespan in B.C. - Healthy Minds, Healthy People.
- Mental-health problems frequently begin early in life, with approximately half starting by age 15 and three-quarters by age 24 - so, a focus of the plan is on promoting healthy social emotional development, preventing problems before they begin, and intervening early when challenges occur to achieve better outcomes now and later in life.
For Telehealth video or audio clips of Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, go to: http://sendtonews.com?SK=EKw9fAaiuK
For an introduction to Telehealth in Child and Youth Mental Health, watch the BCMHAS video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeUbvnrRLVs
Telehealth services are currently available in approximately 30 other clinical program areas, including oncology, thoracic surgery, home care, renal, rheumatology and wound care. For more information on Telehealth, visit: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/ehealth/telehealth.html
For more information on Child and Youth Mental Health programs and services in the province, go to: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/index.htm
BCMHAS, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides specialized provincial tertiary mental-health services to British Columbians. For more information on BCMHAS, visit: http://www.bcmhas.ca/default.htm
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Provincial Health Services Authority
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