Telepsychiatry with Children and Adolescents in Community Mental Health Settings
Lynda Lee Carlisle, MD, DFAACAP

  • Federal mandates that have increased the eligibility of children and adolescents for mental health care have not comparably increased the capacity for services.
  • In non-metropolitan communities, youth often receive their mental health care at community mental health centers.  Child and adolescent telepsychiatrists can provide the psychiatric services that are not available locally.
  • There is often a wide variety of staff specialists at community mental health centers, and they may not be child-trained. Many are not yet licensed, or are working toward advanced degrees. Child and adolescent telepsychiatrists may play an important collaborative role to upgrade evidence-based, child-specific services and bolster support networks. 
  • Psychiatrists providing telepsychiatry to rural areas can help to build capacity and bridge the access-to-care gap by referring youth back to their primary care provider for medication management after evaluation and/or stabilization. This collaboration can open telepsychiatrists’ schedules more quickly to increase access and provide a resource for primary care providers.
  • Staff and administrators at community mental health centers may need some education to learn how to work remotely with psychiatry, to appreciate its benefits, and to overcome limitations.
  • Child and adolescent telepsychiatrists must learn how to work within the structure and resources available in under-resourced community mental health centers in distant communities.


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