GBHWC: New SMS system gives clients easier access to mental health services

NEW MESSAGING SYSTEM: The Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center in Tamuning as seen Sept. 30, 2022. GBHWC says its clients will have easier access to mental health services through their new SMS system. Norman M. Taruc/The Guam Daily Post

The Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center is launching a new pilot program, the Smart Short Messaging System, on Feb. 7. GBHWC said that it will enhance its capacity to meet the mental health needs of clients.

“We pledged to constantly look for avenues to open access to care and also how do we use technology to give better care to clients. Because we are so client centered as a (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited department, our goal is to deliver excellent service,” GBHWC Director Theresa Arriola told The Guam Daily Post.

Arriola said that she jumped at the opportunity to provide better care to clients and increase the efficiency of the department through the use of technology.

“I immediately thought, what a wonderful way to make sure that our clients get those reminder texts, get those reminder calls to pick up their medication. Using technology for what it’s here for. And that’s making our lives easier and more efficient,” Arriola said.

GBHWC currently has a person on staff who is responsible for reminder calls and rescheduling appointments. But with technological advances, Arriola believes that the person doing that job can be better utilized in the actual direct care of clients.

“We’re using technology at its best to help us become more efficient so that the warm bodies can be focused on direct care … instead of doing administration and just making calls,” Arriola said.

According to Arriola, having this two-way, cyber-secure system in place will be a great benefit to clients who need immediate responses, rescheduling and reminders.

GTA, Docomo Pacific and IT&E have agreed to offer an exemption to GBHWC and its clients by waiving long-distance charges.

“Now our clients who are challenged enough in life don’t have to be worried about, ‘If I reply to this text, I would have added fees or costs to responding to the text,'” Arriola said. “Most of them are challenged when it comes to telecommunication, transportation, (and) jobs.”

GBHWC already has telecounseling and telemedicine components, according to Arriola.

“We’re already there. And so, the SMS system now - we are piloting it,” she said.

The new service means clients can “immediately reschedule” and stay on top of their health care, according to the GBHWC director.

“It’s going to drive better health care to our consumers and we just look forward to more collaboration and engagement with the clients so that the no-show rates drop,” Arriola said.

Arriola believes that with this new system, the community will be able to improve their mental and emotional health care for the good of themselves, their families, their careers and their lives.

According to a release from GBHWC, the $281,000 pilot project was awarded to Community Connect Labs and is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Grant.

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