Pediatric Access to Telemental Health Services (PATHS)
Grant Status: Active
Training Category: Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCA)
Jane Duer, MEd, ECSE, IMH-E
Alabama Department of Mental Health
Montgomery, AL 36104
Like many states across the country, Alabama has seen an increase in the need for child and adolescent mental health services, coupled with a scarcity of mental health providers. In fact, Alabama typically ranks last or next to last in the ratio of mental health providers to citizens. It is even more dire for children and adolescents. Alabama also ranks near the bottom in many other socio-economic determinants of health that negatively impact mental health for children and adolescents.
Goals and Objectives:
Though the focus of PATHS is equipping these specific professionals caring for children/adolescents ages birth to 18, the ultimate goal is to increase access to mental health care for the patients served. By the end of the upcoming three years of funding, PATHS aims to provide services in all 67 counties of the state, with a continued focus on working to lessen mental health disparities, especially in rural and underserved areas. Through these efforts, PATHS will increase the number and types of providers enrolled and trained and the number of children and adolescents served by the program. Overall, the proposed expansion of the PATHS program will work to strengthen the existing workforce, increase access to high-quality and equitable mental health services, and support mental health and overall well-being for Alabama children. The PATHS program leadership is grateful to the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access program for making the program's current successes possible and for consideration of future funding.
The PATHS program model involves training, tele-consultation, technical assistance, care coordination, and direct Tele-Mental health services in the primary care setting. Thus far, the program has enrolled providers in approximately 70% of the counties in Alabama (47 out of the 67 counties as of this submission), with a focus on rural areas. If awarded additional funding, PATHS will increase the number of rural primary care providers served, as well as include more urban practices, while also engaging and supporting Emergency Department providers, and those in school-based settings across the state. A curated educational curriculum will be created for these new provider groups, who will also be provided with mental health consultative support. Trainings will incorporate care that is equitable, respectful, and culturally and linguistically responsive. The breadth of provider disciplines available for consultation will also be expanded. Needs Assessments will be conducted to determine how best to support school-based personnel and Emergency Department providers. School-based efforts will focus on those school systems and local education agencies who have limited mental health resources available to them.
In order to continue the effective implementation and expansion of PATHS going forward, the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) will work in partnership with the Children's Hospital of Alabama (COA), the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health. In the coming years, PATHS will also expand efforts and outreach through coordinated partnerships with Emergency Departments and schools in communities across the state.
The Evaluation of the program will be led by the UAB School of Public Health. The evaluation team will be responsible for oversight and monitoring of all data collection, analyses, reporting, and continuous quality improvement. The overall evaluation plan is a mixed methods design to include quantitative, number-based assessment, as well as a qualitative, themes-based assessment, to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences and perceptions of primary care providers who care for children and youth with behavioral health disorders and their families who receive pediatric mental health services and supports through the project.