PUBLISHED: 5:37 PM on Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Rural primary care providers get new mental health resource
ANCHORAGE - Front-line care providers in rural Alaska have a new way to help meet their patients' mental health needs. Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) and Alaska Federal Health Care Access Network now offer a free monthly behavioral health videoconference to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium providers.

"Mid-level primary health-care providers are the first contact for people who need behavioral health treatment," said API Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. "These videoconference lectures and consultations let providers around the state ask behavioral health specialists about medication and treatment options."

Alaskans' need for mental health services, especially in remote communities, is clear. The suicide rate for rural Alaska children is nine times the national average. The Alaska Native adult death rate from suicide is four times greater than the national average; from alcohol, seven times greater.