- Mental Health
- Substance Use
- Healthy Living
Getting specialized help for mental health problems can be challenging at the best of times. If you live outside a major city, the task of finding a professional who can help you or your family member get well is even harder. Even people who live ‘in the city’ can face challenges such as long drives to a clinic or hospital, bridge tolls, parking fees, and time off work or school. There are some exciting things to know about if you have ever faced the challenge of finding or even getting to your mental health professional.
(1) BC Children’s Hospital has now enabled virtually all of their mental health professionals to see patients using secure videoconferencing technology, also called ‘telehealth’. This means that seeing a psychiatrist, social worker, or nurse could now be as easy as going to your local mental health clinic or hospital and ‘dialing in’ to your healthcare professional in Vancouver. Not all patients are suitable--- you need to be able to sit in front of a screen for an hour or two and be comfortable with the idea with talking someone far away--- but studies in Canada and the United States show that many people benefit from telehealth. BC Children’s accepts referrals from family doctors, pediatricians, and mental health professionals. Our specialty mental health clinics are being encouraged to consider all patients living outside the lower mainland for telehealth, and you should be asked about it at when you are called for an appointment with us. In addition to the specialty clinics, we also have regularly scheduled ‘virtual clinics’ with psychiatrist consultation and follow up in the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Hazelton, and Houston. We would love to hear from you if you are interested in seeing this service come to your area.
(2) BC Children’s Hospital, alongside BC’s health authorities, is experimenting with technology that will allow us to see patients in their own homes, schools, and workplaces. Some of this technology has already been used on the International Space Station! Check out one example at vsee.com . There are lots of hurdles to overcome, such as making sure that all your medical information stays just as secure and private as when you go to a regular clinic. However, we are all committed to making this happen because we want people to be able to access our services no matter where they live. Stay tuned for more developments.
(3) If you want to get a jump on some of the stuff we are working on, check out https://medeohealth.com/ . Medeo is a private service that is rolling out across British Columbia. Medeo allows you to see a family doctor and a small assortment of specialists from the comfort of your own computer or tablet. Medeo makes use of advanced software to allow secure videoconferencing directly to a number of devices, including PCs, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. You do not need to download anything to use Medeo, and anyone who has a Care Card can access it free of charge. Medeo has a few adult psychiatrists online, and some child and adolescent specialists should be joining soon. One of the biggest challenges we face is convincing healthcare professionals and administrators that all this new technology is a good idea. This is where youth and families come in. You need to tell us what you think about all these changes. Tell us if you think this is going to help. Tell us if you think this is a bad idea. Let us know if you have any ideas of your own. We would love to hear from you! Matthew Chow, MD, FRCPC Medical Director, TeleMental Health Services Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC Clinical Instructor Department of Psychiatry Faculty of Medicine University of British Columbia