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Expanding telehealth access to include mental health services in rural Indiana

Telehealth improving access to mental health care

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expanding telehealth access to mental health services in rural Indiana.

Telehealth is reshaping mental health services in Indiana, particularly for underserved communities, with the Health Resources and Services Administration leading the way.

National Telehealth Awareness Week highlights the increasing accessibility of treatment through telehealth services. In 2022, HRSA funded telehealth programs for behavioral health services, including therapy, addiction counseling, mental health screening, and anxiety and depression monitoring.

HRSA reports that 46% of mental health visits now occur through telehealth. This shift benefits rural and urban areas, as well as Hispanic, Black, and Asian individuals who have historically faced barriers to mental health care.

Heather Dimeris, Director of the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth for HHS, notes that telehealth is bridging the gap, allowing rural communities to access care from providers they couldn’t reach otherwise.

“Telehealth provides an opportunity for these rural communities to link with providers they might not otherwise be able to receive care from. So, in the case of telebehavioral health services or mental health services, through telehealth, we’re seeing that many patients are really satisfied with the increased access to care. And the outcomes for those patients receiving mental health services can be just as good as in-person care,” Dimeris said.

HRSA data shows that nearly 40% of behavioral healthcare is now conducted virtually, benefiting both adults and pediatric patients. HRSA also offers free or reduced-cost internet and broadband connections to eligible individuals.

Hoosiers living in rural areas can learn more about telehealth services by visiting the Indiana Telehealth Network website.