Welcome from the Director
Welcome to the Center for Telepsychiatry and e-Behavioral Health (CTeBH) at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.
There has never been a more exciting time in the field of mental health. Today, advances in neuroscience are being translated into clinical practice at a pace that has never been possible before. New diagnostic techniques, neurobiological understanding of mental health and illness, new medications, more effective psychotherapies, and the genetics of mental illness are among the most exciting advances in our field. Several psychotherapies, including cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal therapies, now have demonstrated evidence supporting their efficacy for specific psychiatric disorders. At no other time in the history of psychiatry and behavioral medicine have such powerful molecular and imaging tools been available to gain deeper insight into the correlations between mind and brain, pathophysiology and symptomatology, and treatments and outcomes. Treatments for psychiatric illnesses have become as effective as treatments for any other types of illnesses. There have been amazing advances in our understanding of the brain's structure and function, how the mind works, and tremendous innovation in treatment. Indeed, this is the most exciting time in history to be in the medical specialty of psychiatry.
Unfortunately, many people with mental disorders have not been beneficiaries of these advances in science because of lack of access to mental health services. It is often difficult to recruit and retain mental health providers to rural and underserved communities. As a result, these communities often suffer from limited access to mental health services. This lack of access can sometimes force patients to travel long distances to obtain mental health services, or forgo such services altogether. Non-mental health providers are also often placed in the position of serving patients with severe mental health problems with little or no specialty support. These factors reduce the quality of mental health services available to patients in rural and under-served communities. A growing body of literature now suggests that use of live, interactive, audio-videoconferencing to provide mental health care has the potential to mitigate the workforce shortage that directly affects access to care, especially in remote and underserved areas. With such an arrangement a provider at a distant location evaluates and treats a patient at their local clinical site via such live and interactive video-conferencing. This has been referred to by various terms including tele behavioral health (TBH), telepsychiatry, telemedicine, e-behavioral health, telemental health, e-care, telehealth, and telecare. Telepsychiatry can also be used for consultations between providers, as well as for provider and patient education. Aside from helping address the problems associated with access to mental health care, telepsychiatry also has the potential to address a pressing and difficult challenge in healthcare delivery system today: the integration of science-based treatment practices into the routine clinical care.
“Tele” psychiatric services at the East Carolina University (ECU) Brody School of Medicine were first provided by psychiatrists of our Department of Psychiatry in the mid 90’s to residents of eastern North Carolina. ECU psychiatrists have been instrumental in identifying and creating operational guidelines for telepsychiatry. These procedural guidelines continue being utilized today in tele-mental health services both regionally and nationally. Patients are no longer just from the regional hospitals in the East, but are rather from all across the State connecting from various medical entities. ECU’s new Center for Telepsychiatry and e-Behavior Health (CTeBH) has sprung from the state’s rapid growth in need and clinical acceptance in tele-mental health services. ECU’s Telemedicine Center also continues to expand, distribute and collaborate specialty services from all of the ECU divisions to those in need.
CTeBH is also the home for the North Carolina Statewide TelePsychiatry program (NC-STeP). The NCSTeP program provides psychiatric assessments and consultations using telemedicine technologies to patients in hospital Emergency Departments across the state of North Carolina. NCSTeP is within its third year of successful operations and continues to extend its services to an anticipated connecting 80 or more hospitals across North Carolina. To learn more about NCSTeP, we welcome you to visit the NCSTeP website.
I thank you for your interest in our work.
Sy Saeed, M.D., M.S., FACPsych