Reaching Rural Ohio With Intellectual Disability Psychiatry

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Individuals with intellectual disability experience higher rates of mental illness when compared with the general population, and there is a lack of medical and mental health professionals in rural and under-served areas. With the increase in discharge of individuals from institutional settings back to their home communities into the least restrictive environments, there are more patients with complex needs being added to the schedules of physicians in the outpatient delivery care system. Patients with disabilities may not travel well or tolerate changes in routine so may not have access to psychiatry. Utilization of telepsychiatry is well suited to this specialized patient population because it allows a highly traumatized group to meet with a psychiatrist and other mental health professionals from a location of their choice. Ohio’s Telepsychiatry Project for Intellectual Disability was initiated in 2012 to serve outlying communities with a lack of infrastructure and resources, to provide specialized mental health services to individuals with co-occurring mental illness and intellectual disability. After five years, over 900 patients with intellectual disability from 64 of Ohio’s 88 counties receive specialized mental health treatment through this statewide grant-funded project.


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