Encouraging Trends in Children's Mental Health Services

Twenty years ago, only about 10 percent of people under 18 years old who were identified to have mental health problems received any kind of treatment. Today, about 50 percent of these children and teens will receive the treatment they need. The growing number of young people getting treatment is partially thanks to a national trend toward coordinated health services. Below is an excerpt from The Boston Globe's report on Massachusetts' growing number of pediatric offices sharing space with psychologists.

Children who go to a Wellesley pediatrician can, if needed, see a psychologist in a nearby exam room. At a medical office in Peabody, boys and girls with anxiety issues can simply go upstairs to see a social worker. And at a Newton pediatric clinic, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are able to see an on-site nurse practitioner specializing in mental health.
These are among a growing number of Massachusetts pediatric practices that are sharing space with mental health professionals, a move aimed at improving access to hard-to-obtain psychological services and at sending the message that treating children’s depression and behavioral issues is as important as following their asthma and diabetes.
Roughly one in four pediatricians in private practices in Massachusetts works in a setting that now includes some type of mental health service, according to a preliminary survey of members of the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “In the last two or three years, there’s significant growth in this kind of collaborative care,” said Dr. Ellen Perrin, a developmental behavioral pediatrician with Tufts Medical Center who conducted the survey with a colleague. “There is a recognition that the nation’s mental health system is broken, especially for children, and we have to do better.”
This model is one example of a national trend toward more coordinated services, which centers on primary care doctors working closely with specialists to keep patients healthier and, ideally, to lower overall costs. Getting different clinicians in the same space is not practical in every case, but many pediatricians believe it is the best way to address children’s behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders, which are being diagnosed at far higher rates than ever before.

Read the full story here.

juvenile-justice-system_David-BackesDavid Backes writes the Friday news roundup for Reclaiming Futures and contributes articles about juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment to ReclaimingFutures.org. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Santa Clara University. David works as an account executive for Prichard Communications.

Updated: March 26 2013