State and IU partner for rural mental health services – Inside INdiana Business

The Salem Public Library is one of four libraries participating in the program. (photo courtesy of IU Center for Rural Engagement)

Indiana University partners with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to provide mental health services in four rural Indiana communities. The program provides telehealth services to IU School of Social Work students at Bedford, Petersburg, Salem, and Sullivan libraries. Kerry Thomson, executive director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement, says the program grew out of rural communities expressing a need for better access to mental health services.

In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Thomson said using libraries is a key part of the program.

“Libraries have become a place where people don’t just pick up books. They are community resource centers,” Thomson said. “As we were talking with libraries about other things they can do to meet the needs of communities, this idea came up to provide telehealth services of some variety, and what seemed to work best was telehealth. mental. We’re so thrilled that the opportunity is there to truly reach Hoosiers no matter where they live; a library is a natural place to do this.

Thomson says rural Indiana communities often have a ratio of one mental health provider per 1,200 residents.

The program involves two groups of students from the School of Social Work on IU’s Bloomington campus. Thomsen says freshmen can do case management, which can involve providing links to resources a person might need, such as food, clothing, housing and health care.

Second-year graduate students will be able to provide direct mental health clinical support to individuals under the supervision of a field instructor who is a licensed social worker and field liaison.

“It’s like a therapy date, and it’s what people think of the most when they think about mental health,” Thomson said. “Social work students can really help look at the whole person and the services that might be needed to support their mental health. »

IU says students will complete up to 640 clinical hours during the academic year. Thomson says the program will not only benefit those seeking mental health services, but also the workforce.

“As we look at how we attract a workforce of mental health professionals, part of what we need to look at is the ease of care, and walking a long distance between appointments is often a detractor for a supplier,” she said. “But, when you can sit in one place and access patients wherever they are, that’s great health.”

Thomson says the school knows, from working with students in the past, that exposing them to the work, quality of life and culture in rural areas also helps inspire them to want to live there later.

The state is providing $200,000 for the program, an OCRA spokesperson said. our WEHT-TV partners.

“Finding accessible mental health resources, especially in rural communities, can be difficult,” OCRA executive director Denny Spinner said in written remarks. “Offering free telehealth service is a convenient and accessible resource that I hope many rural Hoosiers in these counties will benefit from.”

Adults 18 and older can make an appointment now for a telehealth consultation. Individuals do not need to be residents of participating communities to make an appointment.

Locations and times include:

  • Bedford Public Library: 1323 K. St. in Bedford. Appointments are available from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesdays. To make an appointment, call 812-275-4471 or email [email protected]
  • Pike County Library, Petersburg Branch: 1008 Maple Street in Petersburg. Appointments are available from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday. To make an appointment, call 812-354-6257 or email [email protected]
  • Salem Public Library: 212 N. Main St. in Salem. Appointments are available 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. To make an appointment, call 812-883-5600 or email [email protected]
  • Sullivan County Library: 100 S. Crowder St. in Sullivan. Appointments are available 4-6 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m.-noon Thursday. To make an appointment, call 812-268-4957 or email [email protected]

Thomson says if the program’s pilot is successful, the university hopes to secure additional funding to expand to other communities, especially near IU’s other regional campuses throughout the state.

You can find out more about the program from the Center for Rural Engagement at click here.


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