On August 27, The New York Times ran an article by Matt Richtel titled “This Teen Was Prescribed 10 Psychiatric Drugs. She Is Not Alone.” It documents the practice of “polypharmacy”: prescribing multiple medications—most of which have not been tested either in children or in combination with one another—to manage young patients’ depression or anxiety.
That young patients are being prescribed potent cocktails of untested drugs is obviously wrong. The question is, how did we get to this point, and what can we do about it?Read more
In the wake of the Texas school shooting tragedy, your young patients–and their families–may be experiencing anxiety that can affect normal functioning. That anxiety can manifest in many ways, from reluctance to go to school to increased aggressive tendencies.
In fact, pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) have been observing the effects of news consumption on their young patients for years now. The spike in anxiety at the beginning of the Covid pandemic is another example. Families may be experiencing trauma as they watch scenes of devastation and displacement in Ukraine. Every act of terrorism or mass violence inspires more fear. The examples go on.
As your families’ trusted PCP, you can influence how patients and families deal with anxiety over recent events and the continuous barrage of bad news that characterizes today’s media culture.Read more
Many patients who have mental health conditions need talk therapy in addition to the treatment you provide as the pediatric primary care provider (PCP). If you practice in an area where therapists are available, we hope you have developed referral relationships, as you learned in your REACH training. You may also see patients who are already working with a therapist.
In either case, the communication between you and the therapist makes a huge difference in the quality of care the two of you provide.
To learn how PCPs and therapists can collaborate to improve the mental health of children and adolescents, we talked with clinical psychologist Kevin Stark, PhD, a founder of The REACH Institute’s CATIE program, and pediatrician Hilary Bowers, MD, director of behavioral and mental health services at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group, a large pediatric practice in San Diego and Riverside counties in California.Read more
Children with mental health diagnoses may need special accommodations in order to succeed in school. Patients with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism come immediately to mind. However, children with depression and anxiety disorders may also struggle in the classroom.
Pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) and therapists can help families get the school accommodations their children need. Mark Wolraich, MD, REACH faculty member and retired professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, emphasizes that children are best served when professionals take a team approach to mental health care.Read more
2021 brings big changes to coding for mental health visits in pediatric primary care! The new coding guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reduce the documentation burden and increase the levels of payment (work relative value units or wRVUs).Read more
More than 40,000 children have lost a parent due to COVID-19. Black children, who constitute 14% of children in the US, are 20% of those who have lost a parent. Chances are good, then, that some of your patients have been through one of the most significant losses they will experience in their whole lives. The support they receive now to grieve in a healthy way can make the difference between their ability to thrive and their descent into adverse outcomes ranging from school failure to death by suicide.Read more
Last week I saw two children, both African American, who were having suicidal thoughts. In neither case did the child or the parents come in asking for mental health support.
One, a 13-year-old girl I’ll call Simone, wrote on her PHQ-9 depression screener that she had attempted suicide. In our interview, she revealed that she had had sex with a man she met online and that she had been cutting herself. Yet the reason she and her parents came in was an ADHD medication check!
Pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) need to realize that African-American families may not seek help for mental health issues. The reasons for the lack of disclosure are rooted in the stigma around mental health in the African-American community. The stigma, in turn, is rooted in the trauma associated with being Black in America.Read more
Eating disorders are life-threatening mental health conditions—and they are not limited to affluent white girls! Eating disorders affect people of lower socioeconomic status, members of non-white ethnic groups, preteen children, and boys. LGBTQIA young people are at particular risk.
DSM-5 defines four main categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, along with several atypical disorders.Read more
Asked the top three things a pediatric primary care provider (PCP) needs to know about child trauma, Brooks Keeshin, MD, said, “Trauma happens. That’s numbers 1, 2, and 3.”
In fact, up to 80% of children experience trauma by the time they are 18. A large body of evidence indicates that childhood trauma affects physical and mental health, both short term and long term.
Dr. Keeshin, a child abuse pediatrician and child psychiatrist, is developing a new REACH Institute course to teach PCPs to assess and treat child trauma.
“Trauma reactions can look like other mental health conditions,” said Dr. Keeshin. “Traumatic stress can present with symptoms of ADHD, depression, or anxiety. If the pediatrician knows a child has been exposed to trauma, that changes what they do. But first they need to know.”Read more
In a study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.8% of adults reported having been physically abused as children, and 11.1% reported psychological abuse. Infants and young children are at greater risk than older children; neglect is more commonly reported than physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, according to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.
As a pediatric primary care provider (PCP), you play a vital role in detecting and preventing child abuse and neglect.Read more