Telemental Health in Emergency Settings

AA Allen and KM Faris
June 2017

Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.
The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

“Smart Practices” for Community Services Boards Learned from the Field

The following report was created to support “SJ-47” – the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century, specifically, the work of the Emergency Services Expert Advisory Panel. Telemental health has been frequently discussed by the panel as a way to enhance emergency services. In order to inform the panel and Community Services Boards (CSBs) statewide on how telemental health can be used specifically to enhance emergency services, researchers from the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy (ILPPP) have been looking closely at existing emergency telemental health practices and their current and potential use in emergency departments and other emergency settings. Researchers interviewed five CSBs who were identified as using emergency telemental health services through ILPPP surveys of CSBs in 2016. Two hospitals that have partnered with Fairfax-Falls Church CSB were also identified during the interview process and contacted for interviews on their experiences and perspectives on their internal use of telemental health and their telemental health partnerships with Fairfax-Falls Church CSB.

This report, using the experiences and examples provided by these existing programs, provides “smart practice” recommendations for CSBs when implementing and structuring an emergency telemental health program. The recommendations were formed after speaking with the five CSBs that either currently have an operating emergency telemental health program or are in the process of implementing a program. The recommendations themselves come from researchers’ synthesis of information gained from the interviews and from recommendations offered by CSBs and CSB partners.

We would like to thank the CSBs, hospitals, and VACSB who contributed their time and expertise to this report. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.