Where can child protection leaders learn more about implementing telehealth for behavioral health services?

Remote delivery of behavioral health services has been implemented primarily to overcome access barriers for specific populations, including those in rural areas. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, this virtual form of service delivery became commonplace across a range of sectors by necessity — almost overnight.

A growing body of research supports the use of telehealth for mental health and substance use treatment, and its application for service delivery within the child welfare context.1 This resource list provides brief summaries and links to some of the most recent, relevant, and comprehensive resources available on its implementation.

For an overview of telehealth, issues to consider for implementation in child welfare, and some examples from jurisdictions using telehealth successfully, see How can child welfare agencies use telehealth to increase access to critical services?  For details about the critical need to ensure all families have equal opportunity to connect with virtual supports and access essential services, see Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities.

Implementation resources

Recently developed resources for agencies implementing telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Health Resources & Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Telehealth.HHS.gov (2020)
    • This website offers information for providers on getting started, COVID-related federal and state policy changes, and planning telehealth workflow. The site also includes information for patients: what to expect, what equipment is needed, and tips for finding telehealth options.
  • JBS International, Caring for Children, Youth, and Families via Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic (2020)
    • This brief offers an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric mental health, and provides practitioners with practical, clinical, and developmental considerations for implementation of telehealth.
  • Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Colorado State Emergency Operations Center, Telehealth for Providers (2020)
    • This website is designed to support providers who are shifting to telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes basic information on getting started, a summary of relevant changes to regulations (including HIPAA and Medicaid), links to additional resources, and funding opportunities.
  • Federation of State Medical Boards, U.S. States and Territories Modifying Requirements for Telehealth in Response to COVID-19 (2020)
    • This summary highlights state-by-state information about how licensing guidelines for telehealth are evolving in response to COVID-19.
  • National Technical Assistance Network for Children’s Behavioral Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Telehealth and Mobile Technology in Child, Youth, and Young Adult Behavioral Health (undated)
    • This brief shares information about policies and practices that influence the use of technology in telehealth, and the use of specific mobile technologies for providing access to a range of supports and services for children, youth, and young adults with behavioral health challenges and their families.

Model-specific guidance

Telehealth guidance from developers of some of the most well-established evidence-based interventions:

  • Institute for the Advancement of Family Support Professionals, Virtual Home Visiting/Telehealth Resources (2020)
    • This website provides links to collections of federal and model-specific guidance, as well as resources for technology, screening, program enrollment, and supervision.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy National Therapist Certification Program, TF-CBT Telehealth Resources (2020)
    • This resource site offers telehealth webinars, guides, tools, and research related to Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Client relationships

Resources for providers on building and maintaining rapport with youth and adults in a telehealth environment:

  • Seager van Dyk, Ilana, Droll, Juliet, Martinez, Ruben, Emerson, Natacha, & Burrsch, Brenda, Building Rapport with Youth via Telehealth (2020)
    • This article reviews tips for setting the scene, introducing telehealth to patients, building rapport, and keeping kids engaged.
  • Kroll, Juliet, Martinez, Ruben, Seager van Dyk, Ilana, Building Rapport with Adults via Telehealth (2020)
    • This article reviews tips for setting the scene, introducing telehealth to patients, building rapport, keeping patients engaged, and tips for groups.

Telehealth for rural areas

Comprehensive pre-pandemic guides to telehealth developed for implementation in rural areas:

Best practices for telepsychiatry

Guides to best practice in delivery of virtual psychiatric services:

  • American Psychiatric Association, Telepsychiatry Toolkit (undated)
    • Developed by the American Psychiatric Association Work Group on Telepsychiatry, this online toolkit covers the history and background of telepsychiatry, training, legal and reimbursement issues, technical considerations, and practice and clinical concerns. Includes information and videos featuring leading psychiatrists.
  • Telemedicine and e-Health, Best Practices in Videoconferencing-Based Telemental Health (2018)
    • This guide highlights best practices in clinical videoconferencing in mental health, using resources from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Telemedicine Association.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, Using Technology-Based Therapeutic Tools in Behavioral Health Services (2015)
    • This manual assists clinicians with implementing technology-assisted care. It highlights the importance of using technology-based assessments and interventions in behavioral health treatment services. The manual also discusses how technology reduces barriers to accessing care.

1 See, for example: Hilty, D. M., Ferrer, D. C., Parish, M. B., Johnston, B., Callahan, E. J., & Yellowlees, P. M. (2013). The effectiveness of telemental health: A 2013 review. Telemedicine and e-health: The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 19(6), 444–454; Bashshur, R. L., Shannon, G. W., Bashshur, N., & Yellowlees, P. M. (2016). The empirical evidence for telemedicine interventions in mental disorders. Telemedicine and e-health, 22(2), 87–113.

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