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Mercer receives grant for telehealth to address mental health needs in rural counties

The program's goal is to bring mental health resources to rural counties that need assistance with psychotherapy treatment and referral.

MACON, Ga. — Professors at Mercer University School of Medicine received a grant to bring medicine for mental health in several rural counties. 

Professors Bowden Templeton and Morgan Stinson, received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $403,000. 

The telehealth services will go to several Central Georgia counties including Johnson, Washington, Telfair, and Hancock. Sumter, Warren, and Clay counties will also be a part of the new project. 

The program chose these counties, because they are a part of a list by the U.S. Department of Health Resources and Administration for mental health resource shortages. 

Templeton says primary care offices will have telehealth locations within the seven counties for people to get services for mental and behavioral health.  

He says telehealth is a great way to reach people in rural counties that need care but don't have the resources.    

"Some folks may not have a car to get here or the funds to pay for gas to travel what could be long distances to get to a provider, and being able to provide this telehealth fills that gap very beautifully," says Templeton. 

Students will also get the chance to gain experience with the telehealth services and work alongside the practitioners in Macon.

He says receiving care through a computer can be exactly like going to see a doctor in person.

"The changes that people are experiencing are similar to those changes that they would have experienced if they had met in person, with the person, which is to say, it turns out that there's not as much difference as we might all have wondered," says Templeton. 

The program will take about a year to get all the technology and also have everything set up in the different locations. 

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