The Importance of the Primary Care Setting
More and more primary care clinicians are delivering mental health services to children and adolescents in the primary care setting – the “medical home.” In the past 25 years, the rate of psychosocial problems identified by primary care providers has more than doubled – from 7% to 18% and research has shown that families who seek out help for mental health issues find it less stigmatizing than in other settings. A 2015 study in Pediatrics found that primary care physicians treat one-third of children with mental health conditions, and write 60% of the prescriptions for psychotropic medications.
Providers within the “medical home” are a trusted source of guidance, information and expertise on child health and development, child rearing and mental health treatment. This setting is ideal for initiating services for children with emerging developmental and behavioral problems, and common mental health disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use. The primary care setting provides opportunities for early identification and intervention, counseling, guidance, care coordination, and chronic illness management.
Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative
To better support pediatric practices in screening and care management of children, youth and adolescents with mental/behavioral health concerns, NJAAP is working with Meridian Health and Cooper University Hospital to implement the Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative, a partnership among leading pediatric and behavioral health systems of care, to develop and execute an integrated child mental health delivery system. The program, which started in July 2015 and is funded by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), was modeled after the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP). The program aims to improve the comfort and competence of primary care physicians and pediatricians to screen, identify and care manage children with mental health concerns. Pediatric providers in 11 New Jersey counties have quick access to mental/behavioral health consultative services and referral services for the children and families in their care. Starting in 2016, the program serves providers in Monmouth, Ocean, Camden, Burlington, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Middlesex and Salem Counties. In the summer of 2017, the expansion program will serve providers in Bergen, Hudson, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren.