Increasing Access to Depression Treatment for Rural Adolescents

Learn how we are reducing barriers through a variety of strategies, from providing physician continuing education programs to creating a pediatric telehealth network.

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Supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Altarum is working to increase access to depression treatment for adolescents in rural Michigan using behavioral healthcare integration and telehealth in primary care settings.

Our Approach

In partnership with the Michigan Center for Rural Health, the Upper Midwest Telehealth Resource Center, and CISCO, the Altarum team is providing the following services:

  • Developing and delivering continuing education (CE) to 45 primary care providers on adolescent depression screening, treatment, and follow-up;
  • Providing clinicians with stand-alone telehealth units and a HIPAA compliant telehealth software package;
  • Providing CE training for behavioral health and primary care clinicians on telebehavioral telehealth;
  • Providing on-demand technical assistance to help primary care clinicians integrate telehealth and adolescent depression screening and treatment into their existing workflow (including maintenance of certification (MOC) credits);
  • Creating a ‘pediatric telehealth network’ enabling rural providers to consult with behavioral health providers and adolescents in primary care offices; and
  • Evaluating the impact of the RAD-IT program on the behavioral health outcomes of 1,500 rural Michigan adolescents.

Anticipated Results

This project addresses the significant challenges rural adolescents face with accessing person-centered and integrated mental health services in a timely and affordable manner. Once clinicians are utilizing the RAD-IT model, we expect to see significant improvements in provider capacity to identify and treat depression in their adolescent population. We also anticipate the program will advance clinician knowledge and confidence, improve depression screening and follow-up rates, and reduce the severity of depression among adolescents treated by RAD-IT clinicians.

Increasing Access to Depression Treatment for Rural Adolescents Contact

Contact Us

Emily Ehrlich

Emily Ehrlich  - MPH, PMP

Director, Behavioral Health

Areas of Expertise
  • Integration of Health Care Services
  • Substance Use Disorder Prevention
  • Quality Improvement & Clinical Decision Support

Emily has more than 25 years of experience in health care policy and research, including co-authoring 15 peer-reviewed publications and directing a CMS-funded program to train 4,000 primary care and behavioral health providers in depression screening and safe opioid prescribing. Emily leads Altarum’s behavioral health work, which includes implementing peer recovery programs, creating a patient outcomes registry to improve mood disorder treatment, and delivering training and technical assistance to help communities address the opioid crisis. Emily has a master’s degree in health behavior and health education and is a certified Project Management Professional.

Haley McCrary

Haley McCrary  - MPH

Philanthropic Lead

Areas of Expertise
  • Qualitative Research
  • Mixed-Methods Evaluation
  • Behavioral Health

Haley coordinates Altarum’s philanthropic-funded work to improve health and health care, particularly in the areas of health equity and access. She has expertise in evaluating health education and behavioral change efforts in rural, domestic, and international settings. Haley holds a master's degree in public health from the University of California, Davis.