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STUDY: Children prefer mental healthcare at pediatrician office

March 25, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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According to a recent study, children who are treated for mental health disorders have better results when treated at their pediatrician's office versus an outside specialist. 

The study, which was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal Pediatrics, followed 321 children over a five-year span. Some, 160, were treated for mental health conditions at their pediatrician, while the others, 161, were treated by outside mental heath providers. 

According to an article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

Of the children assigned to receive care at their doctor's office, 99.4 percent initiated treatment and 76.6 percent completed their programs. Of those referred to specialists outside the office, 54.2 percent began treatment and 11.6 percent completed it.

 And not only did the children have better results, but the study also suggested that the families were more comfortable with treatment at the pediatrician office. The reasons for this, according to the article, were that the family felt the pediatrician office was more convenient, they already knew and trusted the doctor there, and it was a more discreet way to get their child the treatment he or she needed.

The article makes it clear that integrated care is the direction that the field should take because of studies such as this one. 

Dr. Fritz, president-elect of the child and adolescent psychiatry academy, said the profession must develop a tiered system in which primary-care doctors treat some mental-health problems, consult psychiatrists on others and refer certain cases to specialists. He said the profession also must work to break down insurance barriers to integrated care.


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I have practiced in community mental health for most of my social work career. For the last one and a half years I have been providing integrated mental health care for pediatrics and adult patients in a FQHC. It's a great service. It breaks barriers for the patient and primary care doctor, provides the patient and family with treatment on site, patients and family are comfortable getting their treatment all in one place. I love the ability to collaborate and coordinate services, treatment plans and all aspects of patient care with the providers. We can solve problems quickly whether it be a medical issue that comes up, social emotional issue or resource issue. I'm thankful my community has implemented mental health in our primary care setting in all our service lines!

That's great, and I think that's what is really important in the field today -- not only breaking down the stigma walls that lie between mental health patients and the rest of the public, but breaking down the barriers between physical health doctors and mental health providers-- they are all providing care to people who need it and I think it's crucial that they all be on the same page. And of course, as this news report and your comment mentioned, it is very convenient for a person to be able to receive treatment for various needs in one place.
I'd love to talk more on this topic in the future, please email me and I'll be in touch!