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 New Jersey Pediatric Psychiatry Collaborative (NJPPC)

NJAAP is working with Hackensack Meridian Health, along with Atlantic Health System and Cooper University Health Care and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care to implement the NJPPC, a partnership among leading pediatric and behavioral health systems of care, to develop and execute an integrated child mental health delivery system. 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. The NJPPC, which started in July 2015 with funding by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), was modeled after the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP). The core elements of this collaborative care model include primary care provider education, timely access to psychiatric consultation, and appropriate referral and care coordination. The program, now in its 6th year comprises over 765 pediatric clinicians. These participating pediatric primary care clinicians have screened over 182,022 patients for mental/ behavioral health issues, and 11,220 patients have received mental health consultation services via the NJPPC Hubs, to date.

For more information about the NJPPC, please click here for an introductory video.

The Regional Hospital-based NJPPC Hubs include:

  • Hackensack Meridian Hub @Hackensack University Medical Center: Bergen County
  • Hackensack Meridian Hub @ Palisades Medical Center: Hudson, Union Counties
  • Hackensack Meridian Hub @ Jersey Shore University Medical Center: Monmouth, Ocean Counties
  • Hackensack Meridian Hub @ Middlesex and Mercer: Middlesex , Mercer Counties
  • Atlantic Health Hub @ Morristown Medical Center: Morris, Passaic Counties
  • Atlantic Health Hub @ Newton Medical Center: Hunterdon, Somerset, Sussex, Warren Counties
  • Cooper Hub @ Cooper University Medical Center: Camden & Burlington Counties
  • Cooper Hub @ Pennsville: Gloucester, Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland, Cape May Counties

Now Available: Telepsychiatry Enhacement Through Your Regional HUB. Serving all 21 NJ Counties. 

Beginning in 2019, the Federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) funded the NJ Network to incorporate telepsychiatry into the established DCF funded Pediatric Mental Health Access system for patient consults & provider education. NJAAP is working with the NJ Department of Health, Hackensack-Meridian Health, Rutgers Behavioral Health, Cooper University Hospital, and Atlantic Health System to implement the telepsychiatry enhancement to all 9 Network Hubs. While the underlying Hub system has greatly improved mental health care for NJ’s children and adolescents, the new telepsychiatry expansion is helping to fill the remaining gaps in access to mental health care. More than ever, due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, telepsychiatry services have become essential for patient care. As of Spring 2020, telepsychiatry is now available to all Hub members across all 9 Hubs.