June 28, 2023
People Incorporated has proudly offered telemedicine services since the pandemic began in 2020. Like most other agencies, we didn’t offer any virtual mental health services before the pandemic changed our landscape; the changing landscape compelled us to adapt, and now, it is a core practice within our programs.
Kylie Otte, a Mental Health Therapist at our Family Life Center outpatient clinic, serves about half of her regular clients through telemedicine.
“With telehealth, we’re able to serve a much broader range of clients,” said Otte. “I even have clients who are up in Duluth. Especially with the shortage of mental health providers, telehealth gives us the ability to impact people all over the state regardless of where they are.”
For a long time after the COVID-19 pandemic began, telemedicine was People Incorporated’s primary mode of delivering outpatient services, medication management, therapy, and more. Now, our programs offer it as an option for clients of all ages.
While many clients still prefer in-person services, the option to engage virtually continues to be utilized by many clients. The virtual approach provides a consistent and convenient way for people to access necessary mental health services despite busy schedules, making it possible for clients to take a break for services during their workday, whether they take the appointment in their car, from a private office room, or by calling in from home. Otte works mainly with youth, and she collaborates with schools in Anoka County so that her clients can take a break during the school day for therapy in a private room.
Otte has received calls from potential clients who had been searching extensively for therapy services only to find waitlists of 4-5 months at some providers. Through telemedicine services, People Incorporated can reach these clients faster regardless of their location or circumstances.
“It’s a way to serve the changing needs of our community,” said Otte. “The nice part is that if someone is struggling, it doesn’t matter if they can’t make the drive – we can do a quick visit virtually and help them stabilize more immediately.”
Telemedicine doesn’t work for everyone, though, Otte noted. It should be assessed on an individual basis, and just like finding the right therapist or mental health professional is important, so is figuring out the right setting. For many, the ability to see a therapist in the comfort of one’s home is life-changing. Otte has done telehealth appointments with children as young as 6 years old and has found success. There are many ways our professionals can work with clients virtually that can increase their comfort and reception of services.
“It’s been an interesting ride over the course of the last few years,” said Otte. “Sometimes you get a little dizzy because the client is showing you everything in their house, but people would be surprised to find the ways we can make it work as providers.”
Do you know someone who is in need of flexible, person-centered mental health care? Call our Central Access at 651-774-0011 to get connected.