New UAMS virtual clinic connects people with resources they need for behavioral health

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — For people living with behavioral health issues, COVID-19 has brought new barriers to accessing the help they need.

But a new virtual clinic is working to break those barriers down. 

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Dr. Chris Cargile, UAMS Behavioral Health Service Line Director, said it all started with a need that they were seeing and hearing from their patients and even just people in the community. 

That demand is all about connection between the people and existing resources that can help them.

Cargile said this is how the idea of AR-Connect came about and all it takes is just one phone call. 

“I think that many of us have experienced a lot more distress and have a lot fewer tools to deal with that than typically,” he said. 

Dialing 10 numbers can now get Arkansans quick and easy access to behavioral health care, according to Cargile. 

“This is kind of a soup to nuts hand-off, so that people don’t feel like they can potentially fall through the cracks,” he said. 

Dr. Cargile said he’s not surprised they’re seeing an uptick in the community with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. 

“The things that people often use to manage that type of stress – exercise, hobbies, social connectiveness – has been more of a challenge obviously as those stressors have increased,” he said. 

But now, according to Cargile, there’s an added challenge when it comes to access to healing. 

“Providers have gotten sick, people have struggled with how to provide care safely,” he said. 

This is where, Cargile said, AR-Connect steps in. 

One call will get you an appointment to be screened by a member of the clinical team, who will match you up with the best resource for you. 

“That may be on the UAMS platform, but is also very likely is something that already exists close to home in their community that they just need to be plugged into and we help make that happen,” he said. 

The AR-Connect call center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (501) 526 – 3563 or (800) 482 – 9921. 

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You can also email them at arconnect@uams.edu. 

The virtual clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Health insurance is not required for AR-Connect and patients will not be responsible for any payments outside of what is covered by their insurance plan.