ELKINS — You may be hearing a lot about telehealth lately. The doctor, case manager, therapist or counselor for you or your child may be suggesting services through telehealth during this time of COVID-19 and the need to keep physical distance from others. But what really is telehealth and how does it work?
At Youth Health Service, telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, has been a part of our behavioral health services for children for about 10 years. We first began using telehealth to bring psychiatric care services for children to areas of our region that didn't have children's psychiatric care. Prior to the addition of telehealth care, youth and their families would have to travel very long distances over sometimes dangerous secondary roads to the main YHS office in Elkins to receive psychiatric care. With telehealth care, they were often able to be seen in their own home communities through this technology.
Over the years, the telehealth services at Youth Health Service have continued to grow to accommodate the needs of our families and we can now provide behavioral health therapy, supportive counseling, case management, psychological services, intake assessments, and service planning, in addition to psychiatric care, through the use of telehealth.
So, you may be wondering how this works and what it looks like? Very simply, it looks similar to the widely known Skype or FaceTime, but on a secure platform that protects you and your private health information. The child/family must have access to the internet and have a device such as a smart phone, tablet, or laptop that has video and audio capability (camera, speaker, and microphone). Your provider at Youth Health sends you an email with a link that connects you or your child to a meeting. Once connected you will be able to see and hear your counselor and they will be able to see and hear you! The counselor will be able to share videos, online books, even do art projects with your child, all through this connection.
During these challenging times, the need to feel connected with others is so very difficult yet so very important. Beginning or continuing your child's services can help them still feel connected and supported until we can all be together again!
To learn more about telehealth and other available behavioral health services at Youth Health Service, call us at (304) 636-9450.