Title : Assessing the quality of a telemental health training initiative for social work student to reduce the workforce mental health crisis in the child and adolescent population
Introduction: Delayed access to mental health services (MHS) has become a crisis in the United States. Children have the highest disproportionate rates of delayed psychiatric services in comparison to adults. There are greater demands for mental health professionals than the workforce can supply. Social workers (SW) have been identified as essential stakeholders for children needing access to mental health services. The shortage of social workers is more profound than nurses, especially in rural and underserved areas. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended all educational institutions incorporate telemental health (TMH) training into interprofessional students’ curriculums.
Target Population: The delays in MHS are directly related to the shortage of mental health professionals especially for nursing but is it is more apparent in social work. The United States Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) have projected there is a greater demand for mental health clinicians than the workforce is able to supply. Social workers are essential providers for navigating our nation’s mental health system. They can also train to become licensed mental health therapists. HRSA predicts by 2025 the demand for SWs will be 157,760. However, the estimated supply will be 147,500 resulting in a shortage of approximately 10,260 social workers. Children have the greatest risk for lack of access amongst mental health patients in the U.S. An estimated 13-20 % of children in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness. Twenty-one percent of that amount are children who reside in rural or underserved areas. Strikingly, only 7% of children living in rural or underserved areas will receive a mental health appointment.
Purpose: The purpose of the George Mason University initiative was to develop a telemental health training model that would be incorporated into social work students’ curriculum and meet the IOMs’ recommendation. The GMU Population Health Center Initiative sought to identify how SW students, trained as TMH providers could be the resolution to the workforce shortage crisis.
Methods: This project design was a quality improvement initiative to assess social work students’ perception of the telemental health training. The CTiBS framework was used to determine the level of competency SW students achieved upon completion of the TMH training. The Activity Theory was used as the methodological framework to assess social work students’ readiness of change, engagement, and TMH technology.
Results: After reviewing quantitative data, 70% participants (n=7) declared novice competency. The remaining 30% (n=3) affirmed proficiency (SD= 0.46, V=0.21). Sixty percent (n=6) participants declared they would consider becoming TMH providers. Sixty percent (n=6) of the trainees stated they were satisfied with the training and would consider providing TMH services upon graduation (SD= 0.49, V=0.24). Ninety percent (n=9) of trainees stated they could successfully conduct a TMH visit; and considering working in rural and underserved areas (SD= 0.30, V=0.09). One hundred percent (n=10) of the participants stated the TMH training was a beneficial skill for their profession
Conclusion: One hundred percent of the participants found TMH training beneficial and ninety percent would use it to conduct visits for children upon graduation. The workforce crisis will not improve unless the IOM recommendations are adapted by educational institutions. A telemental health prepared labor force will help to reduce the rates of mental health disparities in children.
Funding: No funding