Washburn Center for Children's Minneapolis headquarters.
Throughout the long history of Washburn Center for Children, mental health therapy has been done face-to-face. Washburn therapists meet children and families in their homes, at school or at Washburns offices in Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park and Edina.
Then COVID-19 hit the state, and Minnesotans were expected to stay at home for everything but essential services. At Washburn, this meant changing the way theyd been doing things for over a century in a matter of days.
Tom Steinmetz, Washburn CEO, said that before COVID forced drastic change, telehealth therapy options at the center were very limited, but the organization had actually already started the slow process of expanding the technology required for offering virtual treatment to its clients.
We were planning and preparing to start piloting telehealth more broadly, he said. Washburn leaders figured the organization was still a long way from launch, but then, he explained, the Coronavirus forced us to figure it out and dive in very quickly.
This timing was a coincidence, Steinmetz said, but it clearly helped Washburn stay ahead of the game and continue to provide services to clients: Because we had already made a huge investment in our technology and the technology packages we provide for our therapists, we were able to make the shift to telehealth for all services within a matter of 48 hours. By March 19, all Washburn services were shifted to telehealth.
Even programs that are typically high-touch, like Washburns Crisis Stabilization Program, needed to make the virtual shift. The program, designed to assist high-risk kids often coming out of hospital-based or outpatient psychiatric treatment, offers wrap-around services headed by a case manager focused on supporting the child and family in all aspects of their lives.
They make sure that everyone in the childs life has the resources and support they need in order to work through whats happening now and to achieve what is on their long-term treatment goals, she said. What makes this approach different from typical case management is the singular focus and coordination of the case manager. This helps the family move more smoothly through often complex systems.
The crisis workers job is to focus on care coordination, Britton explained, to figure out how the services are working together, what their goals are and if any pieces are missing that we can bring on board. Its a nice wrap-around approach to helping families find some stability.
Before COVID, the crisis team worked within a 35-mile radius of Washburns Minneapolis headquarters. Case managers regularly hopped in their cars and drove, traveling to meet children and families in homes, schools and at other sites. These days, that work has all shifted online, Britton said. Case managers contact schools and outside care providers via text, phone or email, and schedule therapy sessions and parent meetings via Zooms health package.
Though the statewide shutdown caused many Washburn clients to pause treatment, Steinmetz said that as soon as word got out that all services were available virtually, families quickly began to return.
Starting in mid-March, when the initial school closings and social distancing requirements were put into place, he said, we saw a lot of cancellations as families just paused and waited. But since then weve actually seen an increase in families calling and reaching out and seeking care.
After the initial pause, Britton said that requests for Washburns services was back up to normal, if not higher than normal levels.
Were just as busy as before COVID, and because we arent traveling right now we have more capacity to see clients than ever, she said. We just want to be helpful. We want to be a support for families in this unusual, stressful time.
The quick shift to telehealth required Washburn staff to be flexible. Not every therapist was immediately comfortable with the technology, Britton said, but she was impressed with how many dedicated themselves to figuring it out so they could continue to serve their clients.
It has been a lot of learning for us and our clients about how to do therapy in a different way, Briton said. And many therapists, now that theyve adjusted to the change, say they are seeing unexpected benefits of telehealth. Weve seen kids and their families in so many different settings. Were actually having a lot of fun when kids take us on tours of their rooms, of their safe places at home. Despite the adjustments, were actually seeing some really beautiful results from telehealth. Its been a fun experience.
Steinmetz said that now 95 percent of Washburn staff are working remotely: We have a small crew of facilities and front-office staff who are in the office. Occasionally a therapist will go in alone to hold a telehealth session from their office, but almost everyone else is working remotely.
Some clients have reported that their homes dont have the technology required to support Zoom calls. Britton said that in some of those cases, Washburn staff has been working with schools to provide hotspots, laptops or tablets. Other alternatives have also been developed.
The data we have so far shows that we are able to do video therapy sessions with clients about 90 percent if not more of the time, Steinmetz said. In those rare cases when we cant, say if the family doesnt have the technology or has a bad internet connection, we can do the session as a phone call.
Britton said that Washburn clients tend to have three different reactions to the telehealth shift. One, she said, is that is that therapy continues as usual with few interruptions. When that happens, she said, thats beautiful to see.
A second common reaction is that some kids and families seem to actually prefer teletherapy to in-person treatment. Were seeing some kids and families that are more engaged with telehealth than they were in person, she said. There is a level of intimacy that happens in a face-to-face session with a therapist, but some families feel more comfortable in their homes or on the computer. Ive seen some families and children open up in deeper ways.
A third reaction is that families say they dont like telehealth at all. Some people really prefer face-to-face, Britton said. Kids are tapped out on screens with distance learning. Calling them back in for a therapy session, thats hard. Some kids and families are choosing to say, This isnt my thing. I want to wait until face-to-face is back.
Britton said she misses in-person interaction as much as anyone, but she also said shes feeling privileged and honored that her clients are willing to take the leap and try out this new approach. And there have been times when the new technology has provided welcome lightness in a world that can too often seem dark and frightening.
Were seeing some really positive engagement, she said. There are times when connectivity issues can be stressful and some kids are funny about having you on a screen. But theyre also excited to see you and try a new ways to communicate on their terms. Its fun, actually. The kids are in charge, and they take you where they feel most comfortable. Weve done sessions in closets and outside and even under the bed.
Steinmetz believes that Washburns rapid shift to telehealth was essential to not only keeping the organization afloat but also to maintaining the essential services that it has provided to children and families for so many years.
What we did here was so critical, he said. For children and families, continuity of care and access to mental health services is so key to their health and well-being. We had to do it. We just couldnt let our families down.
Washburn Centers Crisis Stabilization Program has been a lifeline for Taylor Hamlin. When she first got involved in the program three years ago, Taylor was an anxious, frightened and sometimes angry 13-year-old who was in the process of transferring out of a partial inpatient program for children with mental illness. Her mother, Nicole Hamlin, was desperate to find someone who could help her daughter safely make the transition back to school.
Taylor, Nicole explained, had undiagnosed autism and extreme anxiety. Staff at the inpatient program suggested that the family reach out to Washburn to see if they could help. The family enrolled in Washburns Crisis Stabilization program, where they were paired with Barb Kukuroboman, a therapist and case manager.
Barb was working with Taylor to not only be able to regulate her own emotions but also helping her to self-advocate at school and in life, Nicole said. Even when she was physically bullied by another girl, Nicole said that Taylor didnt report what happened. She kept the abuse to herself.
Taylor didnt have the right coping mechanisms, Nicole said. There were times when she would shut down and sit there and not talk. She was an easy target. Barb helped her realize her own self-worth.
Nicole Hamlin, left, believes Washburn's telehealth option has been beneficial to her daughter Taylors mental health.
Through Washburn and Barb, weve seen amazing transitions with Taylor, Nicole said. She got a full diagnosis of autism. She got a mental health caseworker. She is now in a school for kids with autism where she is fully thriving. Her grades are fantastic and she every morning she wakes up wanting to go to school. Barb has been everything for Taylor from a therapist to an advocate.
When COVID-19 forced schools to close, Nicole was worried that Taylors treatments would no longer be available. This would have been a problem for her, she said of her daughter. Shes really been doing well, but without Barbs support, I wondered if wed lose a lot of her progress.
But then Nicole learned that Taylors therapy appointments could continue online. Taylor accepted the change easily, she said, and her twice-weekly sessions with Kukuroboman continue almost as if nothing has changed.
Because we cant do the visits in the office, we do the telehealth every Monday and every Thursday, Nicole said. They meet for an hour after Taylor is done with her school. It is something Taylor looks forward to.
Nicole thinks that being able to continue the routine of therapy without a break has been beneficial to her daughters mental health. I think that COVID wouldve been a lot more disruptive for her if the telehealth option hadnt been there, she said. I just feel lucky that we had this option. Thanks to Washburn and Barb, Taylor has grown by leaps and bounds. Id hate to see that go away now.
The telehealth shift has gone so well for many families and therapists that Steinmetz said Washburn is making plans to continue telehealth options even after COVID-19 loosens its grip on the state. He said that enhanced support from state regulators and insurers around reimbursements for telehealth helped make the rapid shift feasible.
After the governors executive order there was a really quick and supportive shift to expand insurance coverage for telehealth services, Steinmetz said. That was really critical for us being able to make this shift across all of the that we provide and continue to provide. Mental health care support is so key for many kids and families.
With his eyes trained on the future, Steinmetz said he hopes that support will continue so that even after this pandemic eases, telehealth will continue to remain a viable option for all families: As we look further down the road I hope that expanded coverage will continue because there are huge benefits to being able to offer mental health wherever it makes sense for each family.
Having telehealth as an option for treatment has significantly expanded Washburns reach, Britton said. While in the past, service areas were limited to the distance therapists and other providers could travel by car, technology has erased many of those boundaries.
During this time, while we are doing telehealth, we are serving 11 counties. Thats significantly more than where we were able to reach in the past. We get lots of referrals from hospitals and inpatient units around the state. Now we can serve these kids so much easier than we could before.
Telehealth might actually make mental health treatment an option for families who might otherwise have not been able to receive services, Steinmetz said. Imagine a busy family with three kids and working parents.
In-person therapy might mean driving across town after school and during rush hour and figuring out child care, he said. That can be a burden that puts therapy out of reach. If we are able to use telehealth to connect with that parent and child at home, that may make the difference between them getting help and not getting help.
There are regions of the state where access to mental health services are limited, he added. Telehealth makes it possible to reach families in those areas. And even just having the option to call in therapy during bad weather could also reduce no-shows, Steinmetz added: We live in Minnesota, and there are times where we have polar vortexes and snowstorms. When you can provide that service via telehealth, that could be the difference between that child getting help on that day or not.
Because it feels important that people know that Washburn is still running at full steam, Britton said that she and other representatives are reaching out to hospitals and treatment programs that typically make referrals to their programs.
We are saying, We want to provide the services that kids and families need right now. We know there is a huge need. This is a scary and uncertain time. We know there are kids and families in crisis that could really use our services, and because of the space and time provided by telehealth, we have the capacity to get them in right now.
Steinmetz said that lasting impact of COVID-19 may be increased mental health issues among the general population. Hes already seeing that in increased reports of suicidal ideation, anxiety and stress. The states mental health system was already underfunded before this pandemic hit; he hopes that the strong support hes seen in past weeks wont let up anytime soon.
The broader coverage for telehealth was very helpful, he said. There needs to be a major investment in the metal health system. There is every indication that rates of anxiety, depression and trauma are going to increase, especially in the short term. We have a mental health system that was already severely underfunded: We really need to address this issue for the health of the state.
Andy Steiner is a Twin Cities-based writer and editor. Before becoming a full-time freelancer, she worked as senior editor at Utne Reader and editor of the Minnesota Womens Press.
Read more from the original source:
With a rapid shift to telehealth, Washburn Center is providing mental health services to children and families - MinnPost
- This town of 170,000 replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It's worked for over 30 years - CNN - July 5th, 2020
- Donnelly: Progress on horizon for mental health - The Columbian - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health strain on firefighters must not be swept under the rug - Las Vegas Sun - July 5th, 2020
- People in mental health crises need help, not handcuffs - STAT - STAT - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health myth: Mental illness is the same for people of all races - BlueRidgeNow.com - July 5th, 2020
- Pandemic mental health: the urgency of self-care - The European Sting - July 5th, 2020
- JOHN ROSEMOND: Is there a child/teen mental health crisis? - Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - July 5th, 2020
- Peak Wellness Center to host webinar focused on Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - Wyoming Tribune - July 5th, 2020
- Mental Health Greensboro Offers Support This Summer - The Rhino TImes - July 5th, 2020
- Love Island's Belle Hassan opens up on mental health - digitalspy.com - July 5th, 2020
- Providing mental health support for youths affected by COVID-19 - Swinburne University of Technology - July 5th, 2020
- How the Cult of Sleep-Deprivation Affects Work and Mental Health - Harvard Business Review - July 5th, 2020
- Can snoring affect mental health? Heres what you need to know - The Indian Express - July 5th, 2020
- Mental health expert suggests ways for coping with coronavirus crisis - The News International - July 5th, 2020
- Swimming out of the darkness: How cold-water swimming helps with mental health - ABC News - July 5th, 2020
- Mohena Kumari on Covid-19 isolation affecting mental health: I had a lot of anxiety during those d... - Hindustan Times - July 5th, 2020
- Anand Mahindra believes we may be confronting a mental health crisis. Here's why - Times Now - July 5th, 2020
- How neuro-knowledge can help us find happiness and improve mental health - ABC News - July 5th, 2020
- How is mental health manifesting itself in the insurance world? - Insurance Business - June 22nd, 2020
- Native American groups address mental and behavioral health as COVID-19 wears on - Salt Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Will digital mental health solutions thrive after Covid-19? - Medical Device Network - June 22nd, 2020
- ATAI dives into digital therapeutics to boost mental health care - FierceBiotech - June 22nd, 2020
- While Some Experts Brace For Tsunami Of Mental Health Issues, Others Predict Crisis Will Be Short-Lived - Kaiser Health News - June 22nd, 2020
- An inside look at Stanford's one-of-a-kind course on mental health innovation, where students mingle with industry experts and develop business plans... - June 22nd, 2020
- Defund police? Some cities have already started, investing in mental health instead - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Discussion: You Don't Have To Go Far To Improve Mental Health - WCCO | CBS Minnesota - June 22nd, 2020
- Post-traumatic growth will happen in some after Covid-19 ends - STAT - STAT - June 22nd, 2020
- UPDATE: Police reopen east Bloomington area after addressing 'mental health crisis situation' - Bloomington Pantagraph - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health and Sleep Behaviors Are Affected by Diabetic Neuropathic Pain - Endocrinology Advisor - June 22nd, 2020
- 'You are not alone': The pandemic is causing increased anxiety. Here's how to get help - Desert Sun - June 22nd, 2020
- Usher's New Look and Cricket Wireless to Host Virtual Youth Mental Health Summit Addressing the Effects of COVID-19, Systemic Racism and Social... - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental Health Court receives funding for second year - The Owensboro Times - June 22nd, 2020
- Mental health conditions are not a normal part of aging: Dr. Brad Lucas - cleveland.com - June 22nd, 2020
- 'A culmination of crises': America is in turmoil, and a mental health crisis looms next - USA TODAY - June 22nd, 2020
- Covid-19 affects BAME youth mental health more than white peers study - The Guardian - June 22nd, 2020
- UW study looks at the long-term mental health toll of lockdowns - MyNorthwest.com - June 22nd, 2020
- The mental health victims of the pandemic the role of intervention - National Health Executive - June 22nd, 2020
- FCF|REACT Capacity Building on Adult and Child Mental Health - ReliefWeb - June 22nd, 2020
- Three Corners Health hopes to bridge the gap through online mental health forum - Williams Lake Tribune - June 22nd, 2020
- Larimer County, Fort Collins spar over location of behavioral health facility - Coloradoan - June 22nd, 2020
- Pandemic takes a toll on mental health of US residents, new national survey shows - News@Northeastern - June 22nd, 2020
- In the name of #MentalHealth - Mumbai Mirror - June 22nd, 2020
- Uthappa bares it all to raise awareness on mental health and suicide prevention - The New Indian Express - June 22nd, 2020
- Woman Behind Bars With Severe Mental Illness Gets Moved From County Jail - levittownnow.com - June 22nd, 2020
- As activists call to defund the police, mental-health advocates say the time is now to rethink public safety - MarketWatch - June 22nd, 2020
- WRITE TEAM: COVID-19 and mental health/addiction impact - MyWebTimes.com - May 26th, 2020
- Food Service Workers Are on the Brink of a Mental Health Crisis. These Efforts are Helping. - Civil Eats - May 26th, 2020
- 'We are all going through this:' Albany County mental health hotline helping hundreds - Albany Times Union - May 26th, 2020
- Here2Help Mental Health Coalition Library Forum: How to Recognize and Support People in Emotional Distress - TAPinto.net - May 26th, 2020
- VIDEO: YouTuber shows what it's like to have anxiety and panic attacks - Insider - INSIDER - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health and social isolation: how do have an active participation in self-care? - The European Sting - May 26th, 2020
- Cahill calls for mental health unit to be restored, expanded in Kingston - The Daily Freeman - May 26th, 2020
- Copper Ball virtual auction to benefit northern Arizona behavioral health - Arizona Daily Sun - May 26th, 2020
- Online therapy having its moment, bringing insights on how to expand mental health services going forward - The Conversation US - May 26th, 2020
- 'Like an earthquake with many aftershocks,' Coping with mental health and substance abuse issues during pandemic - Monadnock Ledger Transcript - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health apps draw wave of new users as experts call for more oversight - CNBC - May 26th, 2020
- Free Therapy and Mental Health Services You Can Access During the Coronavirus Outbreak - MSN Money - May 26th, 2020
- Mental health: How to care for yourself during the pandemic - CNN - May 26th, 2020
- Covid 19: This form of yoga can improve mental health, suggests study - The Indian Express - May 26th, 2020
- We Need to Take Action to Address the Mental Health Crisis in This Pandemic - TIME - May 26th, 2020
- Katie Lou Samuelson on mental health journey -- 'I realized I needed to ask for help' - ESPN - May 26th, 2020
- 3 signs that your coworker may be struggling with mental health issues - Fast Company - May 26th, 2020
- Singapore-based Intellect wants to lower barriers to mental health support in Asia - TechCrunch - May 16th, 2020
- Take care of your mind: mental health at JMU - The Breeze - May 16th, 2020
- The government will spend $48 million to safeguard mental health. Extending JobKeeper would safeguard it even more - The Conversation AU - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health expert panel discusses how to best deal with differing opinions on COVID-19 - WSAW - May 16th, 2020
- Greater Olean Area Mental Health Professionals Talk About How They Cope With the Pandemic - TAPinto.net - May 16th, 2020
- Letter to the Editor | Mental health requires more attention - Daily Illini - May 16th, 2020
- Mental health therapist concerned about telehealth reimbursements after emergency proclamation ends - KCRG - May 16th, 2020
- Coping Through COVID: The Importance of Mental Health - Patch.com - May 16th, 2020
- Suicide Prevention Aims To Get Ahead Of Pandemic's Added Pressures : Shots - Health News - NPR - May 16th, 2020
- Virtual mental health help for nurses at the front line of COVID-19 pandemic - Wink News - May 16th, 2020
- Experts worry about effects of coronavirus pandemic on those with mental health issues - CBS News - May 16th, 2020
- In China, covid-19 has focused attention on mental health - The Economist - May 16th, 2020
- Deaths and hunger strikes point to mental health crisis on stranded cruise ships - The Guardian - May 16th, 2020
- Im a survival psychologist, and this how weeks of social isolation is affecting your mental health - Well+Good - May 16th, 2020
- No Stigma Nevada: Its the worst time to skimp on mental-health resources - Elko Daily Free Press - May 12th, 2020
- Texas mental health counselors see influx of patients during coronavirus - The Texas Tribune - May 12th, 2020
- COVID-19 and your mental health | Health - Payson Roundup - May 12th, 2020
- Mental health in the workplace: The final frontier - Daily Herald - May 12th, 2020