It’s too early to tally the public health toll brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but pediatric medical professionals are noticing a new crisis that’s affecting children, adolescents, and teenagers. The increase of mental health symptoms and conditions in this group of young people—magnified by life-altering COVID-19 disruptions—has become too large for the medical profession to ignore.
In a letter declaring this new national emergency, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) expressed concerns over the state of healthcare and the hardships that children are enduring.
Therapists are rapidly turning to telehealth as a flexible way to conduct their telemental health sessions, but sometimes the client’s strong aversion to technology is the first barrier that needs to be addressed. According to the Community Living Campaign, access, training, and equipment are the three pillars of technology literacy. Without them, clients may not have the digital literacy skills they need to engage fully in their telemental health session. In this article, you’ll find practical tips to close the tech gap between you and your client!
As a digital advocacy group, The National Digital Inclusion Alliance suggests that you first identify your client’s level of skillfulness with technology and what they’ll need to succeed. Once you’ve nailed down the barriers, you can assess your readiness to coach the client through the skill-acquisition process. This could involve navigating a ZOOM log-in screen, adjusting a client’s microphone, or configuring the client’s speaker.
These are four easy-to-remember questions that can keep you on track when developing a client-centered technology plan:
Dr. Martina Moore already knew quite a bit about being resilient before COVID-19 hit in early 2020. Her practice, along with thousands of other behavioral health organizations, therapists, and professional associations all had to quickly pivot to telehealth.
This fast switch meant having a special quality that therapists often talk about with their clients - resiliency. This was a quality that Dr. Moore came by the hard way. Her father was an alcoholic. And he had a behavioral health problem.
“I grew up with a father that was an alcoholic, Dr. Moore told Raymond Barrett, CEO, and founder of the Telehealth Certification Institute (TCI). “He got sober when I was in high school - in my senior year. I walked that journey with him - of recovery. My father had what we call co-occurring disorders. He had behavioral health and substance use disorders. I saw him navigate through the process of recovery with not as many options as we have now. By the grace of God, he's still sober some 30 years later.”
Kathryn Cates-Wessel, the Chief Executive Officer at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), joins Ray Barrett in a conversation about how AAAP is supporting health professionals who treat clients suffering from substance-use disorders in primary care and psychiatric settings. She offers tips for finding resources, explains why specialist knowledge is imperative for providers, and what service gaps are preventing effective treatment.
Kathryn shares 30 years of experience in the substance-used field with roles in administration, medical education, and policy. Prior to working with AAAP, Kathryn was the Associate Director for Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, as well as the Executive Director of Physicians and Lawyers for National Drug Policy.
Dr. DJ Ida, the Executive Director for the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), agreed to talk with us at the Telehealth Certification Institute about the importance of cultural competence in the mental health field. Part of Dr. Ida’s long-term vision for NAAPIMHA is to establish a national center for cultural competence where clinicians, medical professionals, students, and paraprofessionals can come together for training and supervision.
Dr. Ida envisions that the center would move beyond talk therapy and consider additional community-based interventions, since the traditional therapy model “is not the only way to heal.” At NAAPIMHA, Asian American and Pacific Islander paraprofessionals are recognized for the distinct value they can bring to their communities, even if they lack the clinical skills one might learn in the classroom.
When COVID-19 hit, people worldwide faced isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression as quarantines and lockdowns were implemented. Mental health professionals were on the front lines of helping people cope with the pandemic, but clinicians faced their own struggles. Most closed their offices and shifted their practices to telehealth. They had to quickly learn new skills and ethics. They found themselves isolated - no longer seeing clients in person, or interacting with colleagues between sessions.
Many clinicians turned to their professional organizations for guidance, including the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). AMHCA President Dr. Beverly Smith said it was hard for some clinicians to make that shift to telehealth.
Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) is an evidence-based practice that uses brain games to target specific cognitive domains, such as attention, memory, and executive functioning. This intervention is particularly valuable for clients who have early course schizophrenia, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, or neurocognitive conditions. CET’s effectiveness may be most evident when helping clients with social cognition—being able to get the gist of what someone says, understanding emotional cues, or employing flexible thinking, among other skills.
In a phone interview with the Telehealth Certification Institute, Christa Crohurst—a Licensed Professional Counselor in Arizona—describes her experience of using CET with clients. Christa explains why CET is an option for telehealth and what practitioners should watch out for before they begin offering sessions. Although Christa says that many of her clients have made huge strides with CET, there are a few challenges that practitioners can expect to encounter.
Jill Cook, the Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), spoke with Raymond Barrett, the CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute, about the professional role of school counselors. In addition to being the Executive Director of ASCA, Cook is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and a former chair and member of multiple national organizations. Cook assisted in the development of the School Counselor of the Year program and the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) at ASCA.
According to Cook, there are over 120,000 counselors in K-12 schools who assist students with academic development, social-emotional development, and all types of post-secondary professional and educational goals.
Dr. Bradley Conner, Associate Professor and Director of Addiction Counseling at Colorado State University (CSU), talks with the CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute about his university’s innovative approach to training addiction specialists. As a researcher, Dr. Conner studies the etiology and negative outcomes of sensation seeking, emotion dysregulation, and impulsivity across the lifespan. He looks at how personality types influence the course of disorders and engagement with risky behaviors. In the interview, Dr. Conner uses his expertise to describe the unique addiction training model at CSU.
In this interview, Dr. Kathryn Krase shares her professional advice on mandated reporting with Ray Barrett, the CEO of the Telehealth Certification Institute. Dr. Krase is a lawyer, social worker, and an expert in preparing professionals in the ethical reporting of suspected child maltreatment. She is the co-author of two books: Child Welfare: Preparing Social Workers for Practice in the Field (2021), and, Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect: A Practical Guide for Social Workers (2009). Over the past decade, the main subject of her research and writing has been the disproportionate representation of BIPOC children in reports to child protective services, and the role that bias plays in the making of those reports. As an expert in mandated reporting bias, Dr. Krase examines how bias disproportionately affects families who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). For example, according to Dr. Krase, 25% of the 4 million yearly reports are made against Black children, while only 15% of the U.S. child population is Black.
Dr. Krase’s holistic orientation on reporting stems from her early work experience at the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children—the first child advocacy organization in the world—and her role as a practitioner at the family level. By using current research studies, Dr. Krase presents key topics such as overreporting consequences, mandated reporter requirements, and the legal protections that help clinicians make ethical decisions.
Dr. Krase encourages practitioners of all levels to use self-reflection as they confront their own backgrounds. Since beliefs or assumptions as a reporter can impact who is reported, familiarizing yourself with circumstances that have bias potential can prepare you for tough situations. You can listen now to learn more about this much-needed professional practice area!