The Delaware Children’s Department has launched a program that links pediatric primary care providers with free psychiatry consultations and assistance to streamline behavioral healthcare for children and youth.
Implemented in 2019, the Delaware Child Psychiatry Access Program is a beneficial resource for primary care providers serving young people with behavioral health needs. Its goal is to remove barriers to behavioral health care and provide quicker services to patients when they need it, as well as empower primary care practitioners.
According to the Institute of Medicine, about 13-20 percent of children living in the United States, or up to 1 out of 5 children, experience a mental disorder in a given year. Children’s mental health disorders have a significant impact on children, their families and communities, constituting an important public health issue. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, primary care providers have substantial interactions with children when it comes to managing mental health disorders, with about a third of children exclusively receiving their mental health care through primary care.
“Pediatric primary care practitioners (pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners and medical assistants) are increasingly being asked to provide direct behavioral healthcare services for their patients. DCPAP supports pediatric practitioners by offering consultations and trainings by a child psychiatrist, and referrals to resources and services by a behavioral health care coordinator. The goal is to empower health professionals to treat their patients within their practices,” said Dr. Richard Margolis, DCPAP project director and medical director for the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. “We want primary care providers to take advantage of these free services and look forward to helping them with their practices’ behavioral health needs. Integrating behavioral health care with primary care provides better access – and comfort – to our young patients and their families.”
Pediatric primary care providers enrolled in DCPAP can request a consultation with a board-certified child psychiatrist or behavioral health resources to help them address their patients’ needs. These services aim to help expand providers’ skill and comfort in managing their patient’s behavioral health disorders in their office, as opposed to referring their patients to limited psychiatry services that may take months to access. Providers interested in consultations or more information can call the DCPAP at 302-513-0929 or go to kids.delaware.gov to fill out a service request form. Consultations often focus on questions about diagnosis, screenings, medications and treatment choices for behavioral health disorders.
So far, 175 pediatric primary care practitioners have registered for the program. For more information for interested providers including pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants caring for patients up to age 21, call 302-513-0929 or email DSCYF_DCPAP@delaware.gov. Enrolled providers will also have access to a newsletter, information and webinars.
DCPAP also offers various training and education opportunities for pediatric primary care practitioners and their staff, as well as the general behavioral health community. These training sessions, accessed on a virtual platform and available for free Continuing Medical Education credits, feature live sessions with child psychiatrist Dr. Mark Borer on a variety of topics. For more information about trainings and and to sign up, email DSCYF_DCPAP@delaware.gov. Participants will be sent the Zoom invitation.