A couple of nights ago, our little Telepsych Program that Could reached a major milestone. 

We saw our 16,000th consult patient in the state of South Carolina. 

The Telepsychiatry Program in the SC Department of Mental Health has been going strong for almost six years now, and things just get busier and busier. Some days I come to work and there are ten consults queued up to be seen in various emergency departments around the state. Other days there have been as many as thirty. As I have mentioned previously, each consult, much like a “real” consult on the floor of a hospital, might take anywhere from one hour to two hours or more to complete, from record review to on-camera interview to typing the actual report to be sent to the requesting hospital. 

This milestone gives me pause and makes me think, again, about several very real issues. 

1) Mental illness is very common in the state of South Carolina, and in the rest of the country.

2) Many people have access to mental health services only through their local emergency rooms.

3) Telepsychiatry is filling a need in my state, and is expanding around the country

I have worked in the mental health field for twenty seven years, and I hope to be actively involved in the provision of mental health services to those who need them most for many years to come.

The illness is real.

The sheer volume of work is sometimes overwhelming. 

The rewards for a job well done are many.

Congratulations to my colleagues in telepsychiatry for reaching this major milestone in our program. I am honored to work with you as we try to provide the best mental health care possible for the citizens of South Carolina. 


9 thoughts on “Tele-Psyched

  1. That’s amazing. You are amazing. You mention the rewards of your job. The value of what you do is apparent, but the rewards are not because I’m not sure how the process works. What kind of follow up communication do you get about your patients, for example. I would love to read a post about that, if the spirit moves you to write it. And perhaps this would inspire others to pursue mental h.ealth professions. The national shortage is not cute. It’s dire.

    Congratulations on the continued explosion of increased readership on your blog. The topic and your writing make this well deserved. Remember the little people!


  2. I really appreciate your work and care. Reading your article helped me see how much work is involved by the caretaker. There are so many cracks for the mentally ill to fall through. Bless you for your work and sharing.
    In New Mexico, my state, they have outreach programs for the mentally ill. I don’t know how it works, but it’s supposed to be for rural communities. Over 3,000 patients are being left without care this week, because the feds are saying that the providers overcharged. If the state digs in and tries to provide money -coming from somewhere else, the state probably won’t be reimbursed, and possibly fined. The state is trying to get a waiver. It’s so sad to see hundreds of mentally ill people and their families with signs and crying or just a stone-face, bewildered.
    One woman briefly talked how she was called everyday and reminded to take meds-able to talk, a home visit every so often-, knowing that she can walk into a clinic. She said for the first time in her life, she feels stable and safe, that is until this week. If this falls through, people without transportation and really unfit to travel hundreds of miles to an overcrowded facility will have to do so. .


  3. You are very welcome. Follow-up is frustrating in the relatively leisurely world of private practice. I can imagine that there are so many more possible opportunities for disconnects for you.


  4. I agree with Scorchy. You need some art on your wall, Dr. Smith. The white walls do not suit you unless you are going for that “I am a blank slate” thing.

    The breast cancer ladies have spoken.


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