Telebehavioral Health receives $1.7M for work in schools

A growing number of school-aged children are facing mental health challenges, some severe enough to impair how they function at home and school. The concern is that more than half do not receive the mental health care they need.

Texas is working to change that with the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium. The consortium was created by the 86th Texas Legislature in Senate Bill 11 to address gaps in mental health care for children and adolescents in Texas.

Thirteen health-related colleges and universities across the state will address these mental health challenges and work to improve the mental health care system for children in Texas.

The Department of Educational Psychology and the College of Medicine are involved in TCHATT, or the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine. By developing partnerships with local school districts, the Telebehavioral Care counselors and psychiatrists will help schools identify and assess the behavioral health needs of their students and provide access to mental health services.

“This is a great leap forward in addressing unmet mental health needs of children across Texas,” said Carly McCord, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Departments of Educational Psychology and Psychiatry, and director of Telebehavioral Care. “It is a privilege for us to leverage our growing psychiatry department and our telebehavioral care program to serve the Brazos Valley.”

“We are excited to participate in this opportunity to improve behavioral health services to schools in the Brazos Valley,” said Andrew Harper, MD, clinical professor and associate department head for clinical care. “We are grateful to the Texas Legislature for having the foresight to provide funding to facilitate an expansion of Texas A&M Telebehavioral Care.”

TCHATT is designed to provide short-term school-based visits with a mental health professional for students identified by school personnel. The goal is to provide initial intervention and assessment of students and provide a referral, if needed.

It will consist of the following components:

  • Provision of direct telepsychiatry or counseling services to children and adolescents within the schools.
  • Educational and training materials for school staff to assist in assessing, supporting and referring children and adolescents with mental health needs.
  • Analysis and mapping of existing telemedicine and telehealth programs that are currently providing, or can be adapted to provide, services to schools.
  • State-wide data management system that will track calls and responses in order to measure both need and responsiveness.

Texas A&M Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) is also playing a part in the Child Psychiatry Access Network, or CPAN, which will handle referrals from TCHATT.

The College of Education and Human Development and Texas A&M Health are receiving $4.2 million to support these two initiatives.

The involvement in these initiatives is just part of the Telebehavioral Care’s goal of expanding mental health care access to all populations across the state.

Article is by Ashley Green and was originally published by the College of Education and Human Development

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