Telepsychiatry—Just What the Doctor Ordered

For people with immediate need for psychiatric help, telepsychiatry may be just what the doctor ordered. Many times, people living in rural areas or in places without a lot of residents don’t have access to psychiatric services. And others in physical health care settings, corrections facilities, residential homes, schools, and the military have a hard time getting access to a psychiatrist. Telepsychiatry is a proven and popular tool for providing psychiatric care to anyone, anywhere, using real-time video conferencing.

Benefits of Telepsychiatry

Telepsychiatry provides many benefits for individuals, providers and communities.

Individuals Communities and Organizations Telepsychiatry Providers
Reduced wait times Access to specialists Increased efficiency and visits
Access to specialists Reduced inappropriate admissions Decreased transportation costs
Flexible scheduling Connects health care organizations Improved communication and collaboration
Continuity of care Improved population health Can serve diverse populations
High satisfaction Reduced risks and liabilities Work from home

Models for Telepsychiatry

The scheduled-services model: A provider or small group of providers serves a regular caseload of individuals, just as if they were there in-person. Scheduled telepsychiatry usually occurs in blocks of time and providers assess, offer medication management, participate in treatment team meetings, and can offer supervision to other providers.

The on-demand model: Providers are available upon request. Support staff contact a call center and give information to a live person who links them with a telepsychiatry provider who can speak with an individual via videoconferencing. On-demand services help every individual receive the least restrictive and most appropriate level of care.

Direct-to-individual model: Providers serve individuals in their homes, workplaces, and other private spaces. Usually, the person does not use a call center or in-person facilitator, but has direct access to the psychiatrist. This type of model is usually only available through health plans or employee assistance benefits. This model gives convenience, choice, and transparency in health care.

Telepsychiatry models can also be mixed and matched. A blended model of care throughout a community enables individuals to potentially access the same provider in a variety of settings; from the hospital to rehab, to an outpatient clinic to an in-home follow-up.  A wide system of care enables more consistent and collaborative care across a health system.

A special thanks to Dr. Varrell for providing the information about telepsychiatry

James R. Varrell, M.D. has been practicing telepsychiatry for the past 17 years and has conducted around 10,000 psychiatric evaluations via video throughout his career. Dr. Varrell has been at the forefront of telepsychiatry across the nation and continues to educate the medical community regarding the benefits of telepsychiatry. Dr. Varrell is the founder and Medical Director of the CFG Health Network and InSight Telepsychiatry.

Partners’ Annual Mailing

On Friday, April 28, 2017, Partners sent a letter to 38,552 individuals who have used services through Partners in the past 12 months. This letter contains information about Medicaid and state-funded services for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. The envelope also includes our Notice of Privacy Practices. This annual mailing is required by the NC Division of Medical Assistance.

The mailing simply reminds individuals to contact Partners for any behavioral health resources. In the letter, we emphasize our focus on individuals’ rights and privacy. We also want people to know Partners is always available to help you in a crisis, find providers and services, or schedule enrollee education.

More information, such as your rights and responsibilities, and procedures for obtaining benefits, can be found on our website at If you or someone you know is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, or if you have questions, call our Access to Care department anytime, every day, at 1-888-235-HOPE (4673).

Member Navigator

Rights for People Living with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

In addition to the rights and responsibilities for everyone receiving services, those living with Intellectual or developmental disabilities have additional rights in regards to care in facilities. The following information is a general overview of these rights found in the Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Act of 1985.

  • Individuals may get care in a facility for the developmentally disabled to receive care, habilitation, rehabilitation, training, or treatment.
    • Before being allowed to move to the facility, a qualified professional will determine the extent of the developmental disability. The professional also determines what care a person needs, and if the facility is the best place for treatment.
  • Individuals living in a residential facility have the right to move to another facility if the current facility cannot provide necessary care or treatment.
  • If a residential facility is closing or wants to discharge someone, the person is guaranteed services until:
    • Partners determines the individual no longer needs continuing care
    • The person is moved to another facility
    • Sixty days have passed since notifying Partners of the closing or discharge
  • Individuals can appeal Partners’ decisions regarding the need for continued placement or regarding the availability of an alternative placement
    • If the appeal process takes longer than 60 days, the person can live in a State facility the outcome of the appeal.
  • Any legally competent adult who applied for treatment in a facility and voluntarily moved to the facility has the right to request to leave.
    • If the facility believes the adult is in danger by leaving, the person may be held for up to five days while the facility asks the courts to name an interim guardian to make decisions.

If you feel your rights are being violated, you can make a formal complaint called a grievance. You can place a grievance by:

  • Calling 1-888-235-HOPE (4673)
  • Mailing your complaint to Partners Behavioral Health Management, C/o Grievances, 901 South New Hope Road, Gastonia, NC 28054
  • Emailing
  • Using our online feedback form
  • Approaching any Partners employee

Each option is confidential and secure. You also have the right not to be contacted by us, and not to have your information shared with others involved in the grievance. However, to serve you better and to effectively resolve the issue, we hope you will let us contact you, if needed.

In the Community 

Hickory Brain Injury Support Group

On Tuesday, May 23, at 6:00 p.m., Cameron Houser will talk about some of his personal experiences after brain injury.  He will share what has helped him cope with and advance through different challenges. The group meets at First United Methodist Church, 311 3rd Avenue NE, Hickory. For more information, contact Travis Glass at 828-781-0778 or Also check them out on

Happy 5th Anniversary Infinite Beginnings, LLC

Join Infinite Beginnings, LLC as they celebrate five years of serving our community from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, at Lineberger Park, 632 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia. CEO Vickie Smith and the Infinite Beginnings Team will present complimentary grilled food, fun, and fellowship. RSVP by Monday, May 22, to or 704-671-4047.

Cleveland County Poverty Simulation

Do you have what it takes to survive a month in poverty? Join Cleveland Adult Partnership on Wednesday, May 24, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. to spend a simulated month in the poverty experienced by our community’s individuals and families. The simulation is at Cleveland County Public Health Center, 200 South Post Road, Shelby. This interactive event promotes poverty awareness, increases understanding, and inspires local change. Following this particular simulation will be discussion of how circumstances of poverty create barriers to treatment and stability for many individuals living with mental illness and substance abuse, and how we can work as a community to address these barriers.  The event is free and lunch will be provided.  Register Now!

Annual Summer Picnic – A Brain Injury Support Network Event

For survivors of brain injury, friends, and families—hosted by the Charlotte Brain Injury Alliance Group and the Lake Norman Area Support Network. Enjoy a day at the lake on Saturday, June 10, from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., at Lake Norman YMCA, 21300 Davidson Street, Cornelius. The event is free.If you can, bring food-to-share with the. Monetary donations are graciously accepted. The menu includes hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, cole slaw, chips, watermelon, brownies and more.

Adaptive waterskiing provided by the Adaptive Sports and Adventures Program (A.S.A.P) at Carolinas Rehabilitation.  All levels of physical ability can adaptive water ski. Water skiing and jet ski rides available only for survivors who pre-register by May 26. Contact Barbara Westphal at 704-547-1563 to make your reservations by June 3.

The Arc’s 28th Annual Celebrity Baseball Game

Join The Arc for a night at the ballpark to celebrate with community leaders, special guests, and the Grizzlies. This interactive ball game, filled with lots of family fun, is on Saturday, June 17 from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at Sims Legion Park. The Grizzlies full concession menu and Tony’s Ice Cream will be available. Admission is free. You are encouraged to attend as a player, sponsor, or spectator. For more information, contact 704-861-1036 or Or visit one of the links below.

Visit the Event Page for Game Day details:
2017 Arc Celebrity Ballgame Event Page

Register to Play or Be a Game Day Sponsor:
Register to Play or Sign up as a Sponsor

ALL Athletes with Special Needs Play for FREE but Must Register:
Special Needs Athletes Registration Form


Adult Mental Health First Aid

You are more likely to encounter someone in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Learn how to help a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor in need. Get trained in Mental Health First Aid for free. Sometimes first aid isn’t a bandage, or CPR, or calling 911. Sometimes, first aid is YOU. The adult Mental Health First Aid course is appropriate for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions.

Wednesday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Oak Hill Methodist Church, 2239 Highway 181, Morganton, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Wednesday, May 24, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Waldensian Presbyterian Church, 109 Main Street E., Valdese, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

Youth Mental Health First Aid is recommended for individuals over the age of 18 who regularly have contact with young people—teachers, coaches, social workers, faith leaders and other caring citizens are highly encouraged to attend. Learn how to interact with and assist young people having a mental health or addiction problem.

Thursday, May 25, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at First Plaza Building, First Floor Conference Room, 1985 Tate Boulevard SE, Hickory, NC. Please Register Online by Friday, May 19. For more information, contact Michael Smith at or 828-325-4693.

Wednesday, May 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.

QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention

QPR training provides three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.

Friday, May 19, from 9-11:30 a.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.

Tuesday, May 23, from 4-6 p.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.

Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.

Volume 2 – Issue 22
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