There could be as many as 76 of Georgia’s 159 counties that
have not a single licensed child psychologist, according to the Georgia Department
of Behavioral Health. The department found in 2014 that about half of the state’s counties
lack mental health professionals, but more recent information isn’t available.
The teen suicide rate and other mental health issues faced
by Georgia’s youth came to the forefront at the end of 2017 in a report
from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health. Gov. Nathan Deal created the
commission in June.
In December, the commission returned with five
recommendations to address the state’s lack of services for children
suffering mental health problems.
Among those recommendations is a recognition that, given the
education required to become a child psychiatrist or psychologist in Georgia
and the economic facts of less-populated areas, the demand for child mental
health care in rural Georgia won’t be met on the ground any time soon.
So, instead, the state is proposing to bring children in
need and health care professionals together another way: telemedicine.
Telemedicine, also called telehealth, is becoming a growing
part of rural…