JOPLIN, Mo. — The last thing someone having mental health issues needs is to have a long wait to finally get treatment. Now two health organizations are working together to change that, one here in the Four States, and one that’s not.

It can take weeks and in some cases months for a person with mental health issues to get effective care, in part because of the shortage of therapists, particularly outside big cities. But Mercy Joplin has streamlined that process by working with a company called “Concert Health” which provides virtual therapy options.

“Concert Health is a collaborative care medical group. We work with seventeen states, several partners across the country and our goal really is to increase access to behavioral health care in primary care,” said Dr. Mena Mirhom, Chief Medical Officer, Concert Health.

“We are able to get patients in very fast. We’re able to get them the care they need and patients are reporting back to us that they’re having very high-quality care,” said Destinee Salyer, Mercy Physician Assistant.

For many patients, Salyer says virtual counseling works out better than the traditional standard of face-to-face.

“This virtual option for folks who it may not be feasible to get out and make appointments or able to go out to those appointments or um those who struggle with like social anxiety, this is a great option for them,” said Slayer.

“Oftentimes, if somebody is going to therapy, it’s only a particular set time of the week for 45 minutes. Collaborative care is much more nimble, much more flexible, so you have somebody who’s able to use phone or video visits really at a flexible time for the patients so that way you’re not just waiting for that one-time slot with a therapist that typically sometimes is a barrier,” said Mirhom.

The collaboration between Mercy and Concert was actually piloted in Joplin during COVID and has recently been expanded to include Arkansas and Oklahoma, and could be implemented throughout the entire Mercy system later this year.