The Texas A&M Telehealth Counseling Clinic is expanding its reach to help residents in rural areas of the Brazos Valley receive mental health counseling.

Through satellite access points, qualified residents can access telehealth resources for free from their own computers. The two newest access points, which opened this month, are in Caldwell and Somerville in Burleson County.

The Health Science Center held a grand opening of the access points Thursday afternoon at the Burleson County Health Resource Center at 1108 Woodson St. in Caldwell.

The two Burleson County locations bring to six the number of access points across the Brazos Valley, with three more planned in Robertson and Austin counties, according to a press release.

“These access points provide electronic capabilities closer to home for rural residents,” said Carly McCord, telebehavioral health director and psychiatry clinical assistant professor, in a press release. “We want to reduce the distance between rural patients and providers as much as possible.”

The access points aim to help residents receive mental health care they might not otherwise receive due to distance, availability or cost.

“Mental health care is imperative to overall health care,” McCord said. “We’re working to remove as many barriers as possible to mental health care throughout the Brazos Valley and provide a model for the entire state to one day adopt.”

According to the press release from the Texas A&M Health Science Center, nearly 10 million Texans live in areas where there is a shortage in mental health professionals. Of the 254 counties in Texas, only 69 have psychiatrists.

The Telehealth Counseling Clinic services are provided by doctoral-level trainees and licensed psychologist supervisors through the Texas A&M College of Medicine and College of Education and Human Development.

The other four Brazos Valley Telehealth Counseling Clinic access point locations are at Health for All in Brazos County, Grimes County Health Resource Center inside CHI St. Joseph Hospital in Navasota, Madison County Health Resource Center in the CHI St. Joseph Professional Building in Madisonville and Brenham Community Health Clinic in Brenham.

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