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Health workers take services online

With Gov. Mike DeWine’s orders to both stay at home and maintain social distancing to curb the coronavirus outbreak, an issue was created for those who have the job of providing mental health to clients.

Most therapy sessions are done one-on-one and face-to-face for both privacy and to create a bond of trust between the therapist and the client. And despite the virus, services are essential and had to continue.

That was the question facing Necco. The agency did what so many other essential organizations had to do, they took their services online to continue to provide mental health while protecting everyone’s physical health.

It’s called telehealth, which is delivering services like therapy, case management, nursing and psychiatry online via live video conferencing.

“During this time of national crisis, telehealth is more useful than ever. With so much uncertainty and anxiety throughout our communities, telehealth gives our clients continuity of care,” said one of Necco’s therapists in Ohio, Stacy McFann, LPCC-S. She added that it helps them reach a wider audience. “Those of us in helping professions recognize the importance of serving all of our community, not just those who are easily accessible; telehealth breaks down barriers to ensure everyone has access to vital mental health care services.”

Telehealth is beneficial for clients who reside in a rural area, those with a disability that makes it difficult to travel or a client who is nervous about trying therapy for the first time. Instead of having to travel, they can get services in the comfort of their own home.

One South Point mother, who didn’t want to be publicly identified, said the one of the conveniences of telehealth was that her child can schedule an appointment with her therapist when it is convenient for her and not have to worry about getting transportation to see her therapist.

“Before my daughter was in school and the therapist and case manager would come to the school to see her,” the mother said. “Now things have changed, and I still don’t have to worry about making appointments or getting her to see someone. They schedule weekly appointments and can schedule more in between if needed. It is working for my family.”

And most teenagers feel more relaxed talking to their therapists online since they grew up using the internet as a social tool and are used to talking to friend via Facetime and other apps.

“Teens and young adults are finding telehealth easy to utilize because they are technology experts,” said Elizabeth Cremeans, director of Necco Family Counseling and Community Services. “They expect convenience and our highly-trained team of mental health professionals are ready to meet those expectations.”

One of Necco’s Ohio therapists, Jennifer Riddle LISW-S, sees the future benefits of telehealth past the current lockdown.

“Telehealth has created an opportunity, that once life returns to normal, we will still be able to reach so many families who face challenges that interfere with traditional face to face appointments,” she said.