Addressing mental health is a priority need in South Carolina. With one in every five South Carolinians reporting any mental illness in the past year and one in 12 adults diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder (SAMSHA, 2012), there are growing unmet mental health needs. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program (PMHNP) in the College of Nursing seeks to increase access to mental health providers by training all of its PMHNP students in telemental health delivery. Telemental health expands on the provision of telepsychiatry to include psychotherapy, case management and mobile health (mHealth) strategies. Dr. Tena Hunt McKinney and Dean Jeannette Andrews are spearheading this effort thanks to funding provided by the Fullerton Foundation.
Dr. McKinney, director of the College’s PMHNP program, draws upon the vast network of nurse practitioners and physicians formally and informally affiliated with the CON to identify high quality clinics in underserved locations. She has worked with directors and other and other lead faculty to meet with providers, office managers and staff members of clinics in high-need areas to identify the most appropriate clinical partner for the Fullerton project. The Fullerton learning suite at the CON will provide a secure, private, dedicated space for the conduct of telemental health within an educational model. Services may include diagnostic interviews, medication review and recommendation, holistic lifestyle assessments and education, to name a few.
The goals of this project are to ensure that all PMHNP students will be trained in telemental health delivery, there will be expanded telemental health infrastructure and rural primary care clinics over the next 3-5 years, and there will be a reduction in mental health emergency department visits and hospital readmissions over time.