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Mental health services now offered virtually

Thanks to a new telehealth delivery arrangement with Deer Oaks, residents of Clay Center Presbyterian Manor have expanded access to mental health services.

“Telehealth has been around for some time. However, our recent COVID-19 virus threat has made Congress realize that insurance companies, including Medicare, need to recognize and pay for the benefit this type of service can provide,” said Dr. Margo Fallon, a licensed psychologist with Deer Oaks. “People don’t have to travel to the actual office and can actually see the provider without a mask! Who feels confident sharing feelings with ‘The Lone Ranger’ wearing a mask. We are seeing all of our clients in this manner, not just the ones in care facilities.”

The addition of virtually delivered mental health services opens the door to another level of care that can be challenging to deliver to rural locations, particularly during the pandemic. Such care and treatment is an important part of ensuring overall well-being for residents.

“Individuals of all ages can benefit from help with mental health issues,” Dr. Fallon said. “Some are universal to us all, and some can also be age-related based on developmental issues. There are stresses one experiences as a young child, in the teen years, as young adults, such as dating and mating, career/work, and aging. Aging issues deal with adjustment of the physical and mental changes humans deal with towards the final chapter in their lives. There is grief humans feel with the loss of other humans, personal abilities, home setting etc. Often the elderly suffer a physical issue which triggers other losses when their home setting and self-care are radically altered, especially if this happens suddenly.”

The process of accessing care through Deer Oaks should be seamless and easy for residents and staff to manage. Deer Oaks manages the administrative end of the service, while Dr. Fallon brings her expertise and experience to help residents from varied backgrounds.

“I am a psychologist in private practice in the Kansas City area,” Dr. Fallon said. “We have an office but are currently using teletherapy for safety and to be able to work with far-flung clients. Deer Oaks recruited me to work with some residents of elder care communities because I have an interest in and experience with this population. I have also lived in both large and small communities, so I can relate to the setting.”

Dr. Fallon said in her more than 25 years of experience, she’s practiced in a number of areas, including play therapy with children, couples therapy, and family therapy. Her specialty is expressive arts action therapy, which uses the arts to aid in therapy.

“I like to tailor the technique to the person and collaborate with them about their feelings, concerns, troubles, and treatment goals,” Dr. Fallon said. “Then we work on building a therapeutic relationship in which we can make a plan of action … While medication can help with mental health issues, it is not a permanent solution. Psychotherapy is a mutual collaboration.”

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