You can provide better mental health care for thousands of low-income children and teens by donating to The REACH Institute Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your support!
Scholarships to attend our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program are awarded to primary care providers working in under-resourced communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. These scholarships are funded by generous donations from the Neuberger Berman Foundation and individual donors.
“Every pediatric and family practice resident should be required to take this course! I will take away a renewed appreciation for assessment tools, a new comfort with treatment plans, and an excitement for future partnerships”
We are pleased to welcome the first cohort of scholarship recipients for 2022. These 15 pediatric primary care providers will participate in our Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care program at no cost to themselves or their practices. All 15 practice in underserved communities where mental health needs are high but access to care is poor.
Marie Akers, APRN, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in Tampa, FL. Even before applying for the REACH scholarship, she was collaborating on a program to integrate mental health into pediatric primary care. She is hoping to increase the number of children with mental health needs her practice can treat, including through telehealth.
Ghizlane Benchekroune, MD, is the medical director for pediatrics at a family health center in the Austin area. An immigrant herself, she feels her diverse patients and families trust her to respect their needs. She wants to develop her confidence in using the right tools to treat patients with mental health issues
Daniela Borecky, MD, is a resident in family medicine at in a university medical center in Murrieta, CA. As a first-generation immigrant from an economically disadvantaged background, she is sensitive to the needs of her diverse and low-income patients. She plans to share her REACH learning with her fellow residents.
Traci Cameron, PNP, provides pediatric care and precepts nurse practitioner students in a rural health center in Jacksonville, TX. Having worked in this clinic for 11 years, she has developed trusting relationships with families, which will help when she uses her REACH training to help patients suffering from mental health conditions.
Courtney Campbell, MD, is an associate program director in a pediatric academic center in Baton Rouge, LA, where she cares for a diverse, largely low-income population of patients. She has detailed plans both for using her REACH knowledge and for passing it on to the students and residents in her practice.
Bess Griffin, FNP-C, is a family nurse practitioner in Rochester, NY. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she traveled the country as a crisis intensive care nurse. She is particularly interested in improving her ability to treat patients dealing with the physical and mental health consequences of abuse.
Emily Hall, DO, has long served pediatric patients on or near tribal lands in rural areas of Montana and elsewhere. She plans to use her REACH training not only to serve her own patients but also to be a resource for other pediatricians and to advocate for mental health training for providers statewide.
Gina Labovitz, MD, is a pediatrician in a rural area near Lexington, KY, a community with one of the highest opioid addiction rates in the country. Her goal for REACH training is to offer mental health treatment to victims of addiction–whether their own or someone else’s–and other adverse childhood events.
Juniper Lee-Park, MD, is a pediatrician in Harleysville, PA. Her experience as a middle school teacher gives her a unique understanding of how to work with schools. She speaks four of the many languages of families at her rural clinic and plans to develop mental health education materials in families’ languages.
Payal Maniar, MD, runs a private pediatric clinic in East Orange, NJ, where most patients are on Medicaid. She plans to use her REACH training to diagnose and treat ADHD, evaluate patients for depression and anxiety and begin treatment as appropriate, and work with families of children with developmental delays
Hina Patel, MD, cares for patients from underserved and immigrant populations in a pediatric clinic in Baton Rouge, LA, where she also teaches residents. She wants not only to become more comfortable prescribing for mental health disorders but also to help residents care for patients with no other access to mental health services.
Matthew Rivera, MD, is a family physician in Rochester, NY, with training in integrative medicine. His fluency in Spanish enables him to connect with the immigrant families in his practice. He uses his training as a lay minister to address spiritual concerns that affect and are affected by physical and mental health.
Miguel G. Sánchez Acosta, MD, is a pediatric attending physician and associate director of pediatric residency at a Bronx, NY, hospital. He plans to become the “go-to” pediatrician for mental health conditions and eventually to share his REACH training with his peers so all can comfortably treat common mental health disorders.
Helen Wang, MD, teaches pediatric medicine at a university medical school in San Diego, CA. As she uses her REACH training in her clinical practice, she intends to serve as a model to her residents of how to care for children’s mental health needs. She also plans to facilitate workshops for community and faculty physicians.
Thanks to donations from the Neuberger Berman Foundation and generous individuals, we provided “full-ride” scholarships to 20 pediatric primary care providers working in underserved communities. These 20 providers participate in virtual three-day sessions and six months of follow-up phone calls–all thanks to generous donations from people and institutions who care about children’s mental health.
Having moved from a system where every child saw a psychiatrist, Ursulina Bencosme, MD, now works in a health center in Providence, RI, where most patients see only their PCP. She thus feels the need to learn to treat common mental health disorders and reduce referrals to specialists. “The families I serve really appreciate that their needs can be met in their local clinic,” she wrote.
Emily Braun, MD, is a pediatrician in an Omaha clinic that serves a largely Spanish-speaking population, many of whom have no insurance and face multiple barriers to mental health care. Emily wants to reduce the wait time to less than one month by providing affordable mental health care in her clinic. Later she hopes to create a pediatric mental health clinic within her practice.
Kimberly Brown, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Missouri, where wait times for psychiatric services are at least six months. She is looking to improve her ability to provide medical management of mental health disorders and to share her knowledge with other providers in her practice. Kimberly helped found the Section on Minority Health Equity and Inclusion in the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Mollie FitzGerald is a nurse practitioner in a greater Boston clinic that serves a large immigrant population. To counteract long wait times for psychiatric care, Mollie wants to develop the skills and confidence to diagnose and treat basic mental health conditions. Specifically, she wants to learn medical management of patients with ADHD who also suffer from comorbidities such as depression and anxiety.
Mary Gallagher, a nurse practitioner in Burbank, CA, uses her experience as a student in Cuba and Mexico to communicate with Spanish-speaking families. She plans to use her REACH training to improve her ability to diagnose mental health concerns, manage medications in partnership with in-house counseling services, and apply for certification as a primary care mental health specialist.
Kelli Garber, NP, is a pediatric provider in a statewide school-based telehealth system in South Carolina that serves rural primarily BIPOC and low-income families. She plans to use her REACH training to provide expert mental health care for her patients; she is particularly interested in learning to differentiate ADHD from other conditions. To extend her effectiveness and reach more children, Kelli will share her knowledge with other nurse practitioners.
As a developmental pediatrician in Long Island, NY, Nydia Hernandez Santana, MD, serves as the medical home for children with mental health issues. Her fluency in Spanish enables her to establish easy rapport with Latinx families, with whom she works to break down taboos against mental health care. She will use her REACH training to become the go-to resource in her clinic for psychopharmacology.
Anna Jesus, MD, is a pediatrician in rural Virginia where most patients are on Medicaid. Noting that her only mental health care training was during grand rounds, she wants to expand her use of mental health screening tools and to add trauma screening to her clinical history interviews. She is particularly interested in learning about second-line medications to treat ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
Anna Jones, NP, serves BIPOC and immigrant families, in Chattanooga, TN. Her goal is to promote mental health by offering services during every well-child visit and by conducting family outreach. She wants low-income families have access to mental health care without having to wait months for psychiatric services—when those services are available at all. She is learning Spanish in order to communicate with families in their primary language.
Brenna Lewis, MD, wants to improve her ability differentiate among, for example, PTSD, anxiety, and depression among patients in her rural Oregon clinic who have experienced trauma. She also wants to learn how better to support patients who are not helped by initial treatments for depression and anxiety and to be able treat patients who present with both autism and aggression rather than referring them to psychiatric services.
Lauren Melman, MD, works as a pediatrician in a clinic in rural CT. She will use her training to contribute to her practice’s efforts to incorporate mental health screening into acute care (not just wellness visits), to set aside time specifically for mental health, and to institute a follow-up system. Her experience living in China and in Ecuador taught her to consider patients’ perspectives and cultures.
Jannia Mendez, NP, practices in rural Florida, where her fluency in Spanish helps her communicate with families. She wants to better coordinate with community services for mental health care, particularly for patients who live in chaotic circumstances. Other goals are to learn about mental health care via telemedicine and to help patients through psychotic episodes, in which she has seen an increase during the pandemic.
Pedro Orta, MD, is a pediatrician in Los Angeles who uses his own experience as the child of immigrants and a gay man in a conservative community to understand the struggles and successes of immigrant families. In an area where child psychiatric services are often out of financial reach, he wants to provide first-line mental health services and train others in his primary care practice.
Catherine Pourdavoud, MD, is a pediatric resident in Oakland, CA, a city with many homeless encampments–including one across the street from her clinic. Concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of low-income patients, she wants to expand her confidence and skill in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions and to share her new knowledge with colleagues and patients.
Angkana Roy, MD, practices in a clinic outside Chicago whose families are overwhelmingly low-income and mostly Spanish-speaking. She notes that her master’s degree in public health helps her understand systemic barriers to health. She plans to use her REACH training to improve her own diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and depression and to present her learnings on anxiety treatment to her colleagues.
As the continuity clinic director in her practice in Springfield, MA, and associate program director for the residency program at UMass Medical School-Baystate, Molly Senn-McNally, MD, is uniquely positioned to facilitate opportunities for colleagues and residents to improve their ability to diagnose and treat anxiety, depression, and ADHD. In addition, she plans to enhance her clinic’s system of referral to therapy and other community support services.
A pediatric resident in Philadelphia, Melissa Simkol, MD, is concerned about the lack of mental health care in the urban clinics where she has worked and plans to share her REACH learning with colleagues. Among other topics, she wants to learn to distinguish conduct disorders–often diagnosed by people who are not mental health professionals–from behavior due to social circumstances affecting BIPOC patients.
Kathryn Stroup, MD, works with low-income and BIPOC families in inner-city Philadelphia. After REACH training, she wants to offer treatment to ADHD patients who currently get their medication from a community mental health agency, where the follow-up is not meeting patient needs. She also wants to improve her treatment of depression and to create a flier about talk therapy to educate parents with low English literacy.
Diji Vaughan, MD, looks to use his REACH training not only to improve his ability to treat his own patients but also to expand access to mental health care. He plans to advocate for policy changes in mental health coverage in Arizona. Through his affiliations with a local school of medicine and with the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, he will share his training with other physicians.
Jennifer Ward, MD, has practiced pediatric medicine in rural Florida for more than 15 years. Access to psychiatric services, and even sometimes to counseling, is severely limited. Jennifer has learned over the years to treat patients with ADHD, anxiety, and depression. She plans to use her REACH training to expand her repertoire so she can help young patients to whom she has offered care for their entire lives.
We are thrilled to have doubled the number of practitioners who get a full scholarship to attend The REACH Institute’s Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this year. All 10 of these scholarship recipients will attend virtual trainings in fall 2020.
Alicia Adams, MD, describes herself as “a community-based family doc with a passion for mental health.” Her safety-net clinic in rural central Washington is three hours from the nearest mental health center, which has a long waiting list for Medicaid patients. Though she has become “reasonably comfortable” in treating adults with mental health issues, she wants to learn to help younger patients too.
Raquel Botto, MD, is a family physician in a Toronto clinic where 90% of the families are refugees. Parents and children alike suffer from mental health issues resulting from trauma and displacement; income, language, and lack of access are barriers to care. Dr. Botto plans to use her ability to speak Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, languages common in the clinic’s population, to treat young patients’ mental health issues.
Moshe Kupferstein, DO, is a pediatrician in a clinic in Monroe, NY, most of whose patients are on Medicaid. From the beginning, his practice has included a mental health focus. He wrote, “Reassuring parents that a child’s OCD doesn’t make them a bad parent, following up on school issues — those are factors that . . . take time to do right. But that’s why we became doctors.”
Rayanne Lee-House, MD, is a pediatrician in New Orleans. Losing her teenage nephew to suicide spurred her interest in helping young people with mental health issues. She notes that “the wait time to see a mental health therapist can be a hindrance to care” and that she is in a good position to treat her patients because she has already established rapport with them.
Joanne Martin, NP, works in a child development center in New York City and has served as adjunct faculty for several nursing programs. She wants use her REACH training to improve outcomes for her own patients, share her knowledge with colleagues, and educate parents and the public about the benefits of early mental health intervention.
Amber Pendleton, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical professor in the University of Louisville’s primary care clinic, which has been integrating a mental health focus. She says that the REACH program would “hugely impact” training for physicians, residents, and medical students; “we have struggled find a curriculum that helps us take care of the intense needs of our diverse, urban families of color.”
Andrea Ryan, NP, works in a Chicago-area hospital, where she cites “a desperate need” for pediatric mental health care. The wait is so long that many patients never are seen. NP Ryan said that her own family history of mental illness helps her understand patients’ needs. She looks forward to being able to screen for behavioral and mental health issues.
Jessica Vang, NP, works in a pediatric primary care clinic in Minneapolis. She says, “My experience growing up in the Hmong community significantly contributes to my understanding of diverse mental health perspectives.” She hopes to use her knowledge from our program to “normalize conversations about mental health” and help patients who otherwise might have to wait months to see a psychiatrist.
Gita Viswam, MD, is the sole pediatrician in a safety net clinic in the Dallas area. Herself the child of immigrants, Dr. Viswam understands the stresses facing her immigrant patients. But empathy is not enough. “I am compelled to educate myself on the most effective ways to support and treat them,” she wrote, in order to “contribute to improved mental health” for new Americans.
Gul-e-Shehwar Zahid, MD, is a pediatrician at safety net clinic in a rural community in central California where psychiatrists are rare. As a child and young adult in Karachi, Pakistan, Dr. Zahid saw how behavioral issues often resulted from trauma, family dysfunction, or learning disabilities. She wrote, “My background helps me understand the unique needs and mental health perspectives of the patients and families I serve.”
The REACH Scholarship will enable these five clinicians to participate in the Patient-Centered Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care Program this fall. Three days of intensive in-person training followed by six months of biweekly case-based phone consultations will teach them to assess, diagnose, and treat common mental health issues among their young patients–thanks to you.
These five clinicians were carefully chosen from among 22 worthy applicants. All work in urban settings, where at least 75% of their patients receive Medicaid.
Maria Arroyave, MD, is a behavioral pediatrician who has set up her own practice in Orlando, FL, in order to continue to serve her patients in the wake of Florida’s privatization of children’s medical services. Maria has years of continuing medical education and practice in behavioral health care. She hopes to learn more “so I can see a larger population of mental health patients … and learn newer techniques and state-of-the-art psychopharmacology for them.”
Lori Bennett, NP, says that many of the children she sees in her clinic in Ann Arbor, MI, present with mental health issues. She also sees patients in family homeless shelters. She said, “Being able to assess and provide guidance and treatment in a health clinic that they already feel comfortable in and in a timely manner is one less barrier to getting the help they need.” Patients in the shelters can transition to her clinic so they receive seamless care.
Elaine Coldren, MD, is a newly minted pediatrician at Erie Family Health Centers in Chicago, Illinois. Most of her patients’ families speak languages other than English, which means they have trouble accessing medical care. Elaine, who speaks fluent Spanish, wants to be able to treat her Spanish-speaking patients for anxiety and depression so “they can receive treatment in a timely manner from someone who already knows them and their family.”
Sarah Hahn, MD, is a pediatrician in a federally qualified health center in Chicago. Citing the barriers to outpatient mental health care faced by low-income families, Sarah wrote, “If I could … feel competent to intervene in mental health issues on the spot, I could provide immediate services to our patients at a fragile time, with an increased likelihood of follow up because it is occurring in an environment already familiar to them. This would surely improve quality of mental health care for patients in this community.”
LeKia Parker, MSW/LCSW-E, is a social worker in a specialty clinic for children with chronic illnesses in Norfolk, VA. She notes that her practice sees most patients more often than their PCP does. She expects the REACH training to help her recognize early symptoms of mental health issues and thereby decrease hospital admissions. She said the training “will provide me with an opportunity to get the latest techniques and collaborate with other professionals to see what is working and not working in our practice.”
You can provide better mental health care for thousands of low-income children and teens by donating to The REACH Institute Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your support!