Burrell Behavioral Health cuts wait times using telehealth

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The shortage of mental health professionals means long wait times for those who need help. Springfield's Burrell Behavioral Health is doing something about that. As if telehealth wasn't convenient enough already, now the staff at Burrell are using the technology to connect people with counselors quicker.

Experts at Burrell said it was no secret that access to mental health care was lacking, not just across the Ozarks, but also across the nation. That's why the staff adopted the idea that access was just a concept, not a set time and place. Doctor Adam Andreassen explained there are too many variables that can get in people's way of coming in for an appointment, like transportation, gas money, and work schedules.

Doctor Andreassen talked about how the skype-like service has helped cut down wait times, saying people actually prefer the screen barrier. "One of the reasons I think people might prefer on-screen to in person is that it can feel very threatening to talk to a therapist, to talk to a psychiatrist," he began. "Some individuals, that's what keeps them from coming in, is just the fear of the inter-personal encounter."

In addition to this skype-like concept, Burrell is also working on developing a chat or messaging feature for people to get counseling on the go.

Another thing experts at Burrell have focused on over the past year was creating, and fine-tuning, their walk-in clinic. Doctor Andreassen said the staff members at the Springfield facility were nervous about opening up, but knew it had to be done. The walk-in clinic allows anyone to come to their location during business hours for services. He said this too has helped cut down wait times. "After that initial intake, that initial assessment process, you can get into therapy that same week, usually about three days later," said Andreassen. "Psychiatry, which of course is one of the hardest ones to get into cause that's medication management, psychiatry has gone from about 60 days to about 22 days." While he said they are proud of reaching the 22 day mark, he said they will not stop until they can get it down to same day service status.

For more on the different services that Burrell Behavioral Health offers, click on the link to their website.