Helen Ross McNabb Center

Access to Mental Health Care for East Tennessee Children and Adolescents

The Helen Ross McNabb Center’s telepsychiatry project will provide greater access to high-quality psychiatric care for East Tennessee children, adolescents, and adults affected by mental illness, particularly those in rural locations. With a national shortage of psychiatrists, it is rare and fiscally challenging to provide mental health services in rural areas. Telehealth has emerged as a cost-effective alternative to traditional face-to-face consultations between provider and patient. The Center will allocate nurse practitioners and psychiatrists to provide telepsychiatry services in rural communities. The Center will purchase web conferencing equipment for Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Sevier counties. Clinical staff will be headquartered in two Knox County outpatient clinics. This option will allow the Center to provide children, adolescents, and adults an additional 750 contacts with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. In 2014, the Tennessee General Assembly adopted Telehealth requiring insurance carriers to provide coverage for health care services delivered through telehealth. This legislation is key to the project’s long-term sustainability. The project will ultimately improve the quality of life for thousands in East Tennessee communities and reduce the short-term and long-term costs associated with untreated mental illness.