COVID-19 UpdatesHCN News & Notes

MHA’s TeleWell Service Helps Mental-health Clinicians Work Around COVID-19

SPRINGFIELD — MHA’s recent introduction of its new TeleWell virtual service delivery could not have come at a better time, as more people address the personal impact of government directives such as social distancing to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

TeleWell allows mental-health clinicians and their clients make virtual connections using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. TeleWell is one of the service-delivery methods available to clients through MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health and Wellness Center. Funds provided by the Baystate Health Foundation and the Beveridge Foundation made it possible for MHA to launch TeleWell.

“To slow the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged Americans to practice social distancing, a public-health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission,” said Sara Kendall, vice president of Clinical Operations for MHA. “Social distancing can include large-scale measures like canceling group events or closing public spaces, as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds.

“With social distancing now part of daily life, persons who receive therapy for emotional support, or who would like to, may experience uncertainty when it comes to making and keeping office-based appointments,” she went on. “TeleWell provides another option by enabling persons to keep their appointments virtually. Every day, more BestLife clients are using this option. Our team can walk clients through the simple, two-step setup process, then it’s easy to connect for appointments.”

According to Kendall, MHA originally conceived TeleWell as a way to deliver services to people who did not have convenient access to office appointments due to their location, such as rural areas with limited options for transportation. But social distancing has suddenly created a new and vital need for the TeleWell delivery service as people are avoiding going out of their homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“With public health quickly becoming such a major concern, people are staying home, perhaps left alone with thoughts which may be negative,” Kendall said. “That can lead them to withdraw at the exact moment they need access to counseling. TeleWell helps by ensuring that delivery of services for mental health can continue without interruption.

“I saw firsthand at Bestlife the relief on a client’s face as their clinician reassured them that their next appointment could be virtual, via TeleWell, so they can continue to meet in a way that makes them feel comfortable,” she added. “In another case, a client called BestLife and reported she was so anxious that she was planning to go the emergency room, not because she had a physical reason but because she was so nervous. We were able to connect her with her clinician via TeleWell so she could keep her appointment. That meant she could work on her situation in a way she felt safe and comfortable, which avoided an unnecessary trip to the ER.”

People can learn more about TeleWell and sign up by calling (844) 642-9355.