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ECHO, CAY offer behavioral services to Yazoo, Humphreys

Published on Sunday, August 1, 2021

By: Annie Oeth,

A teacher needs help dealing with outbursts in the classroom. A struggling student needs easy access to mental or behavioral health services.

The Center for Advancement of Youth has a two-pronged program funded by the Mississippi State Department of Education that will address these two scenarios in Yazoo and Humphreys Counties’ schools this month.

TEACH ECHO will bring mental and behavioral health services to the teachers, and CAY tele-behavioral services will help students.

ECHO was originally created as a low-cost, high-impact intervention linking expert interdisciplinary specialist teams with primary care clinicians through teleECHO clinics. Experts mentor primary care clinicians to help them manage their patient cases and share their expertise. This enables clinicians to develop the skills and knowledge to treat patients with common, complex conditions in their own communities, which reduces travel costs, wait times, and avoidable complications.

Part of Children’s of Mississippi, the pediatric arm of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, CAY offers coordinated, collaborative care for children with behavioral, mental or developmental health issues at its clinic at 4400 Old Canton Road inside the Highland Bluff building.

Portrait of Dr. Susan Buttross

Dr. Susan Buttross, professor of child development at UMMC, leads Teach ECHO.

“If teachers are experiencing behavioral problems in their classrooms, we want to share our expertise with them,” she said. “We have physicians, psychologists and social workers ready to help.

“Teachers will be given tools for basic classroom behavioral management, and we will link the students who need face-to-face intervention to CAY tele-behavioral health.”


Dr. David Elkin, UMMC professor of psychiatry and CAY executive director, is heading the effort to bring behavioral health care into schools via telehealth.

“We hope that by offering these services to students through telehealth that we can help children and also collect data to show the effect of children getting the behavioral health care they need,” he said.


Dr. Jermall Wright, superintendent of the Mississippi Achievement School District, which includes the Yazoo City and Humphreys County School Districts, said the partnership between the schools and CAY will provide needed resources for educators and students.

“We've always known that the behavioral and mental health needs of our students are great, but we've not always had the resources, partnerships, expertise and coordinated efforts to address these needs in a comprehensive manner,” Wright said. “This partnership will provide access to services, training and resources to students, families and teachers using the latest technology and research.

“This is an all-around win for our entire school district community."

The program operates through a pediatric app designed by SilverCloud, a U.K.-based global provider of digital platforms dedicated to mental health and well-being.

“Participating students could check in, report how they are feeling and, if needed, talk to a care provider,” Elkin said. “We hope to catch kids with SilverCloud and get them help.”

The programs join Child Access to Mental Health and Psychiatry, a pilot project launched in 2018 by UMMC, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and Families as Allies. CHAMP connects primary care providers with pediatric mental and behavioral health experts from UMMC via telehealth.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began funding Project ECHO in 2009. In the U.S. alone, 175 ECHO hubs reach thousands of communities across 46 states. Around the world, Project ECHO programs operate in 34 countries.

In 2017, UMMC was honored as only one of two federally designated Centers of Excellence in Telehealth.

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