North Dakota health department pilots telepsychiatry program at local elementary school

Southwestern District Health Unit, a public health department in North Dakota, will roll out a telepsychiatry program at Dickinson (N.D.) Middle School this fall to provide students with supplemental psychiatric services, The Dickinson Press reports.

SWDHU is partnering with Grand Forks, N.D.-based Center for Psychiatric Health for the program. Nurses from SWDHU will be onsite at the school to help connect students with a psychiatrist from the Center for Psychiatric Health using telehealth technology.

The program aims to save students class time and parents travel time that would otherwise be spent taking their child to a psychiatrist, according to the report. An initial telehealth session with the psychiatrist is estimated to take an hour, and the child's parent is required to attend. Following the first session, appointments will be shorter, and parents could attend over the phone, the publication reports.

Dickinson Middle School has counselors who currently offer mental health services to students. SWDHU plans to offer the telepsychiatry services once a week for a half day at the school but may increase availability depending on demand, SWDHU Executive Officer Sherry Adams told The Dickinson Press.

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