New youth telemental health practice guidelines

According the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, up to 20 percent of all children will develop a mental or behavioral health disorder before age 18. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of those diagnosed receive treatment. So it’s important that providers are making their services more readily available to rural and frontier populations, where economic circumstances and a scarcity of health professionals make communities and families more vulnerable.

During the NFAR ATTC’s June Telehealth Tuesday, Dr. Eve Lynn Nelson, PhD, Director of the University of Kansas for Telemedicine, introduced the new Child and Adolescent Telemental Health Practice Guidelines that she helped develop for the American Telehealth Association. While protocol for all telemental health patients should include careful attention to safety protocol, privacy and room set up, Nelson highlighted specific operating procedures and protocols for providing services to children. The following are a few of the special telemental health considerations for youth:
  • If the telehealth occurs in a school the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations apply, in addition to HIPAA.
  • Physical location/telemedicine space needs to be sufficient to accommodate all participating individuals on-screen, including parents.
  • Distractions in the room should be reduced, particularly in the case of young children or youth with ADHD.
  • Lighting should be sufficient so that a children’s emotional reaction can be easily seen.
  • Providers should determine the scope of the presenter’s assistance, as well as the training needs of the presenter, including the ability to work with youth with behavioral health concerns.
  • Emergency awareness procedures should be developed to ensure that staff and/or parents are alerted to any safety risks, have on-hand knowledge of local emergency resources, location of nearest hospital, family contact information, and local referral information.
  • Be mindful of consult request data, as it’s more common in child and adolescent mental health to have multiple informants/various providers who evaluate and treat children remotely.

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