Elderly, lower income and rural individuals frequently lack easy access to mental health services where they live, but technological advances and the burgeoning field of telemental health hold out the promise of bringing these services to them.
Telemental health provides its own set of challenges for mental health professionals. But there are currently few opportunities for these professionals to obtain relevant training in how to address those challenges, as well as applied training in telemental health best practices.
A new online graduate certificate program from Purdue University represents a leap forward in addressing that training deficit, as well as enabling professionals in the field to enhance their careers or practices.
“This program doesn’t really exist anywhere else,” said Kelly LeMaire, assistant director of the Purdue Psychology Treatment and Research Clinics and a clinical assistant professor and licensed psychologist.
The new Telemental Health Counseling Graduate Certificate, a collaboration between Purdue’s College of Education and College of Health and Human Sciences through Purdue Online, also stands out for its focus on serving diverse populations, including those who traditionally don’t have good access to mental health services.
“We have a whole class that’s entirely focused on that area,” said Rachel Ploskonka, director of the Purdue Counseling and Guidance Center, a clinical faculty member for Purdue’s counseling psychology doctoral program and also a licensed psychologist. “We’re definitely more comprehensive.”
“If not done well, we are seeing that telehealth offerings can actually amplify disparities,” said Bridgette Kelleher, associate professor of psychological sciences. “It’s really important that we are building telehealth services in a way that addresses the specific needs of diverse communities, particularly those with lower technology literacy, historic experiences of discrimination, or challenges related to access.”
To complete the Telemental Health Counseling Graduate Certificate, students will take four online courses encompassing 12 credits: