Young people with psychological or psychiatric problems are managed largely by primary care practitioners, many of whom feel inadequately trained, ill equipped, and uncomfortable with this responsibility. Accessing specialist pediatric and psychological services, often located in and near large urban centers, is a particular challenge for rural and remote communities. Live interactive videoconferencing technology (telepsychiatry) presents innovative opportunities to bridge these service gaps. The TeleLink Mental Health Program at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto offers a comprehensive, collaborative model of enhancing local community systems of care in rural and remote Ontario using videoconferencing. With a focus on clinical consultation, collaborative care, education and training, evaluation, and research, ready access to pediatric psychiatrists and other specialist mental health service providers can effectively extend the boundaries of the medical home. Medical trainees in urban teaching centers are also expanding their knowledge of and comfort level with rural mental health issues, various complementary service models, and the potentials of videoconferencing in providing psychiatric and psychological services. Committed and enthusiastic champions, a positive attitude, creativity, and flexibility are a few of the necessary attributes ensuring viability and integration of telemental health programs.
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