The Owl gets its name from its distinctive appearance

Mental health experts in West Virginia, US, are turning to a video-calling “owl” to run opioid treatment sessions.

The owl-shaped camera automatically focuses on the person speaking but also captures a panoramic view of everyone in the room.

Staff said the technology lets them run group therapy sessions and treat former opioid addicts.

It also helps them reach patients who live far away from treatment centres in the sparsely populated state.

“Video conferencing saves provider time and knowledge in a state that’s underserved in… mental health and education-related services,” said Ashley Six-Workman, a senior registered nurse who helps to run the West Virginia telepsychiatry project.

Many of the patients receiving treatment would not otherwise get help, she said, since they did not have the money to travel long-distance regularly or did not feel happy making such a trip.

“Video allows the patients to stay in their county, the place where they feel comfortable and confident,” she said.

The telepsychiatry project runs 32 clinics across 23 of West Virginia’s 55 counties. In an average week, it dispenses more than 140 hours of help.

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