The Importance of the Primary Care Setting
From 1979 to 1996, clinician-identified psychosocial problems more than doubled – from 7% to 19% 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. Clinicians 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.
The week of October 18th, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) declared a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health. Please see the declaration and press release below: