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Emergency Mental Health Care Benefits from Telepsychiatry

An EMS and DMH Mobile Crisis Telepsychiatry vehicle.
Julia Shillinglaw

Seconds count when it comes to a suicidal patient and getting them to the care they need. EMS personnel often find themselves dealing with mental health patients. Because they do not have psychiatry expertise, EMS often has to transport these patients to the ER where they will sit until they can get a correct diagnosis. However, this could take hours and leads to the emergency vehicles being tied up while they may be needed for more urgent needs in their county.

This is why in Charleston County, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and Emergency Medical Services(EMS) have partnered to create a Mobile Crisis program. Together, they get mental health patients to the correct facilities faster than ever before. By using telepsychiatry, paramedics connect to a psychiatrist by using a computer in their EMS vehicle. Once connected, the psychiatrist can see the patient and assess their mental state.

According to Olivia Boyce at Insight, the nation’s leading telepsychiatry provider, more programs like the Mobile Crisis teams are being created to give emergency personnel extra backing when it comes to addressing multiple health issues in the communities particularly those with in remote areas.