Deep Bench: Telepsychiatry is in great need in central Wisconsin

(WZAW) -- Telepsychiatry is helping to fill a gap for those seeking mental health treatment in rural areas.

Lee Shipway of Peaceful Solutions Counseling talks about the need for telepsychiatry (WSAW photo)

Lee Shipway, a licensed clinical social worker and the executive director of Peaceful Solutions Counseling in Wausau talked about this topic on the Deep Bench Wednesday.

"A lot of times when a person has a mental health illness, it might be depression or anxiety, the most two common, and a lot of times medication combined with therapy is what works the best. So if they can't have a trained psychiatrist in their area to be able to prescribe those medications, it can be very devastating for those clients," she said.

She said in the rural areas a lot of people seek out telepsychiatry.It's helpful because the doctor and client can see each other on a screen face-to-face, on a secure network.

"It's one thing to hear someone's voice, but you also need to gauge other dark circles under the eyes, does it look like they've not been sleeping? Are they able to have different emotions? [It] tells a psychiatrist a lot about how a patient is doing."

Shipway said there is a huge need for telepsychiatry.

"Because there is such a shortage of psychiatrists across the nation, Wausau and Marathon County is no different, so the need is very large, especially child psychiatrists. I believe there is only two in the Wausau area."

The consortium with mental health clinics in Marathon County puts counselors, social workers and therapists in rural schools, which Shipway said is helpful, as some kids would have to go as far as Marshfield to see a psychiatrist.

"That's where the telepsychiatry dovetails nicely with the on-site school counseling," Shipway added.