During Q4 of 2021, the Virginia Telehealth Network led a multipronged “state of the state” of telehealth in Virginia research initiative that surveyed more than 9,200 licensed health care providers in the Commonwealth. The results show that telehealth is not only here to stay, but it is a tool for expanding access to mental and behavioral health services – 68% of behavioral and mental health respondents said telehealth allows them to spend more time with their patients and 82% cite telehealth for helping to reduce patient no-shows.
During this survey, we were also thrilled to see the number of behavioral and mental health providers who expressed interest in providing tele-supervision or tele-mentoring to professionals who are working toward licensure.
Much of this data along with the overwhelming need for care and lack of services across Virginia fueled the concept for VTMHI.
Building a program for Virginia’s providers
A follow-up survey was sent to more than 300 licensed providers who indicated they were interested in providing tele-supervision in late 2021. Questions were designed to learn how many supervisees providers would be willing to take on, what kind of training would be needed, concerns, and other elements that would help to shape the pilot. A second survey, tapping into Virginia’s Residents in Counseling and pre-licensed LSWs would inform the educational programming and learn concerns, needs, and requirements from their lens.
Focus groups with future supervisees and future supervisors were conducted with select participants of the surveys to further gauge needs.
Partnering with VAFCC
The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) has been involved from the beginning in helping to shape this program. VAFCC assisted in clinic recruitment and conducted joint informational sessions with each potential collaborator to learn what current behavioral and mental health offerings existed; wait lists and times for patients seeking care; processes for new patient intake and volunteer onboarding; clinic cultures; and EHR and telehealth tools and technology needs.