As we in the healthcare system (as well as anyone committed to helping suicidal patients and clients) are keenly aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a monkey wrench into our efforts. With physical distancing requirements impeding face-to-face therapy sessions, we need new and innovative ways to interact with our patients and provide them with the support and treatment they so desperately need.

With this challenge weighing heavily on my mind, suicide treatment researchers like me are working to better understand and support the implementation of effective telehealth tools and resources. To that end, this free, on-demand webinar video discusses the telepsychology use of evidence-based CAMS (Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide) for the general population, and this one explores the telepsychology use of CAMS for treating suicidal college students.

In addition, an article on the telepsychotherapy use of CAMS that I authored with two CAMS-care colleagues – Jennifer A. Crumlish and Andrew D. Evans – was recently published in Journal of Psychotherapy Integration (2020, Vol. 30, No. 2, 226–237).

The abstract of this article is included below, and you can read the full article, here:

It is my hope that these resources, and more to come, are helpful in implementing telehealthcare in your systems of care.

Article Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has created profound challenges for health care systems worldwide. The exponential spread of COVID-19 has forced mental health providers to find new ways of providing mental health services that maintain physical distance and keeps providers and patients at home limiting possible exposure to the deadly virus. The pandemic has thus sparked a sudden interest in providing mental health services via telepsychotherapy (otherwise known as telehealth or telemedicine).

Telepsychotherapy care has some inherent challenges that must always be mastered by providers to render effective care. Previous research and professional guidelines understandably note possible concerns about providing telepsychotherapy care to high-risk suicidal patients in a remote location. The coronavirus pandemic now poses all new ethical concerns about the routine practice of having an acutely suicidal patient go to an emergency department and/or admitting such patients to an inpatient psychiatric unit (if the public health goal is to limit the spread of this deadly virus).

To this end, this article describes a pandemic-driven effort to rapidly provide support, guidance, and resources to providers around the world to use a suicide-focused and evidence-based intervention called the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) within a telepsychotherapy modality. Additional suicide-relevant resources are being made available to provide further guidance and support to mental health professionals worldwide.

In the midst of a global pandemic, there are emerging ways to help reduce further loss of life to suicide through the medium of telepsychotherapy to provide effective clinical care that is suicide-focused and evidence-based.