Two free consultation programs in the Hoosier State, one focused on adults and the other for youth, are closing gaps in mental health care.
Indiana University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry has created the “CHAMP” and “Be Happy” programs to connect physicians and other health providers with board-certified psychiatrists when they have mental health questions about their patients. Additionally, the programs link users with other local resources for treatment and offer education on mental health issues.
IU staff oversee the programs, but any physician or qualified health care provider can participate. Additionally, any referrals to additional mental services are not focused on any single health care system but instead on what will ensure the best fit for the patient, being mindful of local resources and availability.
While CHAMP is a brand-new program this spring, Be Happy started in 2021. Be Happy has taken thousands of phone calls and continues to grow as more than 700 physicians and health care providers are now a part of its network. Patients can’t call the lines asking for assistance or referrals.
“CHAMP and Be Happy are opportunities for primary care physicians (and other health care providers) to learn from psychiatrists on issues that pertain to the patient in question, and hopefully to be a way to lessen the need for referrals and to provide care in the local community,” said ISMA President-Elect David R. Diaz, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at IUSM. “This may shorten recovery or response times for patients. This is really important given that we have a critical shortage of psychiatric physicians, and the wait times are unfortunately lengthy for intake appointments.”
The Indiana Consultations for Health Care Providers in Addiction, Mental Health, and Perinatal Psychiatry Program (CHAMP) is an adult and perinatal psychiatry access program. Launched in March 2023, CHAMP offers a free statewide phone consultation line, referral service, and educational opportunities.
Reasons physicians might call include questions about assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, or referral to community resources.
The process is simple. Physicians can call 317-274-2400, any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and after a short intake with a CHAMP health navigator are connected to a board-certified psychiatrist within 30 minutes or at a specific callback time that works for them. After the conversation, the provider receives brief written documentation of the recommendations via encrypted email.
While the psychiatrist can provide information and guidance, the primary care physician continues to care for their patient. The physician can refer to appropriate medication management facilities in their area if ongoing care is needed. The psychiatrist can also provide ongoing consultation regarding a case if needed.
There are currently 11 CHAMP consulting psychiatrists, including Dr. Diaz. Thanks to support from the IUSM Department of Psychiatry and Indiana FSSA Division of Mental Health and Addictions, the cost is free for users.
Michael S. Metrick, MD, and Camila L. Arnaudo, MD, are co-directors of CHAMP.
Learn more about CHAMP >>
The Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth, “Be Happy,” is similar to CHAMP but for physicians and other health care providers who work with youth and their families.
By calling 317-278-7700 or filling out an online form, a physician is connected to a child and adolescent psychiatrist who can help with assessment, diagnostic clarification, medication management, treatment planning and other pediatric mental health questions.
Most Be Happy calls get answered live, but all calls are returned within 30 minutes. Once the need for the call is identified, a follow-up time is arranged.
Be Happy was launched in 2021 after securing $2.7 million to fund the program for five years. As of April 21, 781 providers were enrolled in Be Happy, and the program had fielded 2,110 calls.
Be Happy, which also offers continuing education, has worked with providers in 65 Indiana counties. Being able to help those with few resources in more rural areas has been a primary focus of the program.
Zachary W. Adams, MS, PhD, and Rachel B. Yoder, MD, are co-directors of Be Happy.
“Not all providers are in a practice setting where they have access to psychiatrists, psychologists and behavioral health specialists, either in their shop or within their system,” Adams said. “And so being available to everybody, I think, kind of levels the playing field in terms of what collaborative care can look like and having access to consultants. It sort of bridges the gap between how different systems are staffed and the availability.”
Thus far, Adams and Yoder said they have received significant positive feedback. Adams noted that year-over-year, the number of calls has grown steadily.
This past September, Be Happy expanded its services to include accessible therapy services thanks to grants from the Irsay and Simon family foundations, Yoder said.
Learn more about Be Happy >>