UW Psychiatry offers robust consultation services for Washington State health care providers

Department news | May 27, 2020

Within a few months, COVID‐19 has caused tremendous anxiety, trauma and grief. We are seeing increased stress in individuals with preexisting mental health or substance use disorders who may be physically isolated and have reduced access to their usual treatment programs or support systems, and we are also seeing new mental health and substance use problems as individuals experience stress, anxiety or grief as a result of the pandemic. Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental-health problems is approaching. This wave will include depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. A recent paper in JAMA Psychiatry warns that the risk of suicide may rise as people grapple with losses, economic challenges, and social isolation. In a May 7 press release, the Washington State Health Care Authority noted that the need for behavioral health services is anticipated to grow.

The Psychiatric Consultation Program provides much needed help
With recent support from the Washington State Legislature, we have developed a robust psychiatric consultation system to help health care providers who are seeing an increased caseload of patients with behavioral health (mental health and substance use) problems. Although the consultation lines were not set up in response to the pandemic, they are serving as a tremendous resource during these trying times. These UW-staffed consultation programs offer clinical advice and support to health care providers who work in a variety of settings including primary care, emergency departments, substance use treatment programs, community hospitals and tribal clinics throughout our state. Over the past year, our faculty psychiatrists have completed consultations for health care providers in 36 of our 39 counties, reaching the vast majority of urban and rural communities in our state.

Staffed 5 days per week, our UW and Seattle Children’s consultation lines provide convenient access to adult, child, perinatal and addictions psychiatrists. Consultations address a range of questions from assessment and diagnosis to treatment planning including medication management, evidence-based psychotherapy and other treatments. Rapid access to such consultation can lead to better diagnosis and appropriate care, improved adherence to evidence-based treatment and better patient outcomes.

Adult, child and perinatal behavioral health consultations
There are three unique phone numbers for the different consultation lines (adult, child and perinatal) with the Psychiatry Consultation Line offering the option of connecting to PAL or PAL for Moms. The Psychiatry Consultation Line will be uniquely staffed 24/7 beginning July 1, 2020.

  • Psychiatry Consultation Line (PCL) for prescribers with adult psychiatry or addictions questions
    877-WA-PSYCH (877-927-7924) | PCLWA@uw.edu
    8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday; available 24/7 starting July 1, 2020
  • PAL (Partnership Access Line) for primary care providers with child and adolescent psychiatry questions
    866-599-PALS (866-599-7257) | paladmin@seattlechildrens.org
    8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday

Caller Testimonials

“What a fantastic service that will really help our overtaxed rural mental health system.” — Clallam County Health Officer

“I don’t think I would see pregnant or breastfeeding women if this service wasn’t available. It makes me feel so much more confident to know that I have an expert available for tricky questions, and then I can apply that knowledge to my next patient in a similar circumstance.” — Anonymous

“This service is amazing. In the middle of our busy clinic day we were able to get recommendations quickly. I am very thankful this service is available to our patients.” — Anonymous

“Many of our rural providers are already taking advantage of this wonderful service!” — Executive Director, Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health

“Thank you! Such a helpful service gives me more confidence as a family medicine doctor seeing adolescents with Mental Health issues!” — Family doctor, Port Angeles

“Thank you for this service. It would take my patient months to see a psychiatrist. The PAL line is efficient and very effective.” — Pediatric provider, Vancouver