• Article
  • November 8, 2017

4 Resources to Help You Tackle the Growing Need for Pediatric Mental Health Services

When a child shows up at the doctor's office with a fever or arrives at the emergency department with a cut, a treatment plan is often predefined. But, as physicians encounter more children with mental health care needs, they are uncovering specific challenges to delivering appropriate pediatric care. A primary care physician may have a difficult time finding referral resources or ensuring the patient meets with a mental health professional. In a hospital setting, providers must evaluate how to safely care for children with behavioral or mood disorders in acute care settings.

At the Children's Hospital Association's Annual Leadership Conference Nov. 6-8, several sessions and posters addressed the challenge of meeting needs of pediatric mental health patients. These resources offer solutions or guidance to better mental health care for the pediatric population.

Session highlights

Meeting the Mental Health Needs of our Pediatric Patients
By age 16, one-third of youth meet the criteria for a mental health disorder, and pairing families with the right resources is a significant challenge for health care professionals. Dayton Children's Hospital's Mental Health Resource Connection (MHRC) describes its cost-effective and efficient model that for five years has successfully connected families with appropriate mental health resources.

Understanding Pediatric Approaches to Behavioral Health and Psychiatric Services
About 21 percent of teenagers live with significant mental illness. Nearly half of these youth are not receiving treatment. Bridging that gap will require strategies to address the major challenges facing children's mental health today. Children's Hospital Colorado and Seattle Children's will discuss how the two organizations are addressing these challenges.

Posters highlights

Medical Behavioral Unit: Enhancing Safety and Experience through Architectural Design
A 10-bed medical behavioral unit at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was designed to address diverse needs of pediatric patients seeking medical care with an accompanying behavioral diagnosis. Staff identified the necessity to architecturally design and operationally execute an inpatient medical and behavioral health unit to address growing patient safety and quality needs.

Reducing Pediatric Psychiatric Hospitalizations
Pediatric psychiatric hospitalizations increased 24 percent from 2007 to 2010, representing 10 percent of all U.S. pediatric hospitalizations, and 33 percent to 50 percent of these patients are readmitted within a year. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the cost of pediatric psychiatric care at $247 billion annually. Franciscan Children's proposes that identification of readmission predictors will improve patient outcomes and decrease costs.

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.