Kansas bill to help psychologists provide telehealth options

PITTSBURG, Ks. — Access to mental health resources is a struggle for rural communities, with many residents needing to make long trips in order to get the care they need.

But a Kansas bill could help.

“The demand is high for our providers,” said community mental health clinical director Amy Glines. “We have a wait to get initial care.”

A wait which might get some help thanks to a recently passed bill from the Kansas Senate.

“Bill 170 is a bill designed to help psychologists do telepsychology across state lines,” said executive administrator Michael Ehling. It’s purpose is to increase access to therapy for psychologists.”

It’s coming at a good time.

Like many services, mental health care changed due to the pandemic.

Places like the Crawford County Mental Health Center saw a good amount of its care happen over the phone or online.

“COVID made it big and very important because our state was in lockdown for a period of time,” Glines said. “But mental health needs never stop. It forced our agency into developing those telehealth options for people very rapidly. I provide therapy myself and I estimate 50 percent of my therapy is done by a telehealth option.”

While restrictions may have lessened, officials still think telehealth has a place in the community.

“Maybe they’re agorophobic, it’s a perfect matchup to begin services, maintain support, then recieve the services where they’re at,” Ehling said.

Something many organizations plan to continue to build — whether it’s local, state or nationwide.

“An example of that is our 988 number coming up for crisis services,” Glines said. “Anything that can reduce barriers, I consider it a win for mental health.”

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