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.