TRICARE, the health plan for members of the military and their families, announced this week that it is extending its Web-based counseling program another year.
The pilot program was launched last summer in a bid to expand services to hard-to-reach beneficiaries, especially returning National Guard members who live in more remote areas of the country.
“We wanted to offer people a variety of options to get mental health care,” TRICARE spokesman Austin Camacho told Psychotherapy Finances in October. “There’s a reluctance to go to a [therapist] because of the stigma attached. But if you do it in the privacy of your own home, there’s an added layer of confidentiality.”
Access to the program was minimal at first, but enough potential was spotted by TRICARE officials to continue it at least through March 20, 2011.
Using a video camera mounted on a PC, members can talk live to a TRICARE counselor who is also using a camera and the free online conferencing service, Skype.
Among those eligible area active duty service members and their families; Reserve members and their family members who are enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select; and those under the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP). Children must be 18 or older.
Members are being treated for stress management, family conflicts, emotional problems due to separation and deployment, parenting issues, and self-esteem issues.
The Skype-TRICARE counseling program is “almost like an EAP type of service,” Camacho said. “Being face-to-face gives the provider another layer of contact. They can pick up on visual cues.”
For more detailed information on the TRICARE service, click here.
Our October, 2009 Psychotherapy Finances article also contains instructions on how to set up a Web-based counseling system, along with costs and required software.