As more schools remain closed due to the coronavirus, Adrian College students in Michigan are receiving free telemental health services from board certified telemental health providers through an online portal.
Students first virtually meet with a college nurse practitioner who refers them to either a certified health counselor or a psychiatric nurse practitioner to receive medication from Mantra Health, a digital psychiatry company that treats anxiety, ADHD and depression.
“Life is now very hectic and stressful especially for students who are trying to manage online classes,” says Emily Kist, who is the director of the college’s student health center. “Together, I help students schedule that first telemental health counseling session with a Mantra clinician and provide information on how to connect with them.”
By the end of this initial virtual meeting with Kist, students have their initial appointments set up and have received an automatic email confirmation of their telemental health therapy appointment with details on how to access the online portal.
Moving the referral process online
Originally, students who needed mental health services scheduled in-office visits with Krist who then referred them to a local therapy or psychiatry service provider in the area.
Meeting remotely for these referral sessions due to COVID-19 concerns has created some complications for Krist.
“There is a certain sense of closeness and comfort that comes with in-office visits, and meeting with students virtually requires more patience,” says Krist. “You have to get to the bottom of the problem a little bit quicker and really determine the student’s needs when meeting virtually because sometimes there is a sense of discomfort that comes with talking through a virtual space.”
Setting up telemental health counseling
After learning about Mantra Health in December, the college rolled out the solution in February right before the coronavirus began spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. Now students can see what medicine they are taking, and track their own progress and goals via the online portal while talking with their telemental health providers.
“When implementing a telemedicine service in general, it’s important to be cognizant of the continuity of care being offered and how sometimes students can get lost in the system, so form a good rapport and collaborative relationship with whoever you choose,” says Krist. “Even though students are home, I am still receiving referrals from students to use Mantra, and students are saying what a valuable service it has been for them.”
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