Project ECHO helping patients in rural areas - | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Project ECHO helping patients in rural areas

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It's a pilot program called Project ECHO and it focuses on helping people battle mental illnesses who live in the rural parts of Montana.

Dr. Eric Arzubi, the Chair of Psychiatry at Billings Clinic, says Project ECHO has been developed over the course of 12 years. Arzubi said it started in New Mexico because of the state's challenges with rural mental healthcare.

Arzubi tells KULR-8 Project ECHO allows clinicians to not feel so isolated and unsupported when it comes to treating their patients with mental illness. Every week physicians meet with clinicians over the internet to talk about cases and what the patients need to get better.

Governor Bullock said it is pilot programs like Project ECHO that bring quality healthcare treatment to patients all across our great state.

Many people have family and friends that struggle with mental illness daily. We asked Governor Bullock what we can do as a community to help those who need it the most.

"There are a number of things we can do," Gov. Bullock said. "First, the most important thing you can do is text 'MT' to 741-741, and at that point, you have a licensed healthcare professional on the other side. We always have to make sure as friends and neighbors to be watching out for those that are loved, but first you have to address the initial problem."

We reached out to Greg Gianforte's campaign about mental illness in our state, and he responded with the following statement: 

"A robust mental healthcare system is especially important given our state's tragically high rate of suicide. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that mental health is an issue that touches every single Montana family in some way. I look forward to working with mental health professionals, local officials and state legislators on solutions that will expand and enhance access to mental health resources for all Montanans."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, doctors advise to do your best to get over the stigma and seek help.

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