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Now is not forever: How mental health care in a virtual world helps caregivers



The month of May, Locus has focused on our collaborations with partners to offer mental health care for all over the United States. The Locus platform allows the Ollie Hinkle Heart Foundation (OHHF) to provide mental health to patients, parents/ guardians, and families coping with congenital heart defects (CHD) regardless of their physical location. With Ollie’s Branch, therapists and clients connect on the Locus app for secure therapy sessions, conveniently on their own desktop or mobile device, or a device provided to them by Locus as needed. 


While a child with CHD may have many paths to travel, none of them are easy and all will weigh heavily on the entire family unit. Being able to offer mental health to this specific community is the legacy that the Hinkle’s provided to honor the journey of their son, Ollie (read more here) who passed when he was one year old.


Andrea Horbrook-Walton, LCPC, LMHC, NCC of Courageous Spaces Counseling and Consulting, helps families through OHHF work to find their own peace while navigating CHD. “Knowing that ‘now is not forever’ is an important mantra for my patients. Parents need to know they can remove the cape and be vulnerable and accept help at this time,” says, Horbrook-Walton. “It’s important to define self-care when you are navigating a tumultuous time, and self-care can look like remembering to drink water, it doesn’t have to mean a day at the spa. Women put themselves last when a family is in crisis and to be strong for everyone, that self-care is necessary,” remarks Horbrook-Walton. She continues, “it’s imperative for parents to go into a mind frame shift and remember the small things, like eating lunch need to happen, whatever you are trying to accomplish in the next twenty minutes can wait, take care of you.”



Dr. Kristin Kroll of Little Dove Consulting is another one of OHHF’s referred clinicians helping patients and families through CHD. “It’s important to know that the evidence shows that telehealth delivery of therapy is just as effective as in person therapy,” remarks Dr. Kroll. “It’s particularly important for those seeking care to not have the burden of travel added to their day. I see patients in 39 states with OHHF so if a patient is already traveling for a procedure, we don’t need to postpone or interrupt care to have a session,” states Kroll. “I find that allowing for virtual sessions allows me to participate and assist patients in ways I wouldn’t get to do just sitting in an office. With some parents, exposure therapy is necessary. Just driving to the hospital and parking in the garage can spur a panic attack. Being on a smart device with them to coach them through it and talk through the experience is a very effective way to assist someone through an experience,” notes Dr. Kroll. “Reminding someone to ground through the five senses during a panic attack while it is occurring can be much more impactful than telling them what to do after the fact. Putting attention on sensation, feel, touch, hear, sight can help ground patients during a panic attack.” One of the priorities that Dr. Kroll focuses on with her practice is to find meaning in the journey. “Nobody wants to have a CHD diagnosis for their child or loved one, so what is something we can find along the way to find purpose in the journey together. What can we do to find meaning,” emphasizes Dr. Kroll.


While there are many steps along the road between PEACE approach and finding meaning on your journey, all are valuable and necessary for OHHF to offer mental health services across the United States. Locus is proud to partner with OHHF to extend these services to patients across the United States that may lack access to technology, WiFi, and/or cellular to receive timely and individualized mental health services.



If you would like more information on Ollie Hinkle Heart Foundation, please click here.

If you would like to connect with Andrea Horbrook-Walton and her offerings, please click here.

If you would like to connect with Dr. Kristin Kroll and her offerings, please click here.

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