By JASON GREENBERG
The New York State Office of Mental Health today announced the expansion of a program that supports treatment of children with mild-to-moderate mental health problems within pediatric primary care settings. Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children’s Health) links pediatric primary care providers with child psychiatrists to provide immediate consultation services and expands the availability and accessibility of children’s psychiatric services throughout New York State.
“Our goal is to make children’s mental health care as accessible as possible. By linking pediatricians, family medicine doctors, and other medical professionals directly with child psychiatrists, we are reducing the legwork for families and ensuring that children get the care they need, when they need it,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan. “These provider-to-provider consultations are performed over the phone so pediatric primary care providers can identify next steps and guide the family through the mental healthcare system, if needed. Children and families can also be scheduled for a face-to-face evaluation with a Project TEACH Child-Adolescent Psychiatrist through videoconferencing or in-person meetings. It’s wonderfully expedient.”
Initially launched in 2010, Project TEACH has enrolled nearly 2,200 pediatric primary care providers in its first five years and has evaluated close to 8,900 children for behavioral health concerns. Through the expansion of this program, Project TEACH plans to enroll an additional 3,800 providers and provide an additional 24,500 New York children with behavioral health consultations by 2020.
The Office of Mental Health has increased funding for Project TEACH by $1.4 million, now totaling $2.5 million annually. This funding will not only enable Project TEACH to triple the number of consultations with pediatric primary care providers provided by Child-Adolescent Psychiatrists, it will also increase trainings for primary care providers, and add staff to provide children and families with linkage and referral to mental health and community supports and services. The increased funding will also support a new site for the program, the seventh site statewide.
“Project TEACH has helped me evaluate and treat many of the basic mental health concerns faced by my young patients,” said Lawrence Horowitz, D.O., FAAP, a Project TEACH participating pediatrician at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, New York. “Dr. Daly, the Child Psychiatrist whom I consult with as part of Project TEACH, has helped me conceptualize some of the more complex issues in children’s mental health and his consistent availability for phone consultations allows me to serve patients who I would otherwise not be able to.”
Additionally, other providers who offer ongoing treatment to children, such as General Psychiatrists, may now request a consultation via Project TEACH, improving the quality of care available to New York children currently receiving psychiatric services.
“Project TEACH has changed my life as a practicing physician,” said Douglas P. Larsen, M.D., a Project TEACH participating pediatrician in Albany, New York. “I now feel that my patients are receiving the appropriate care that they need.”
There are two Regional Providers that coordinate the evaluations, training and services of Project TEACH. They are affiliated with the Four Winds Foundation and the Psychiatry Departments at the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester Medical Center, Columbia University–New York State Psychiatric Institute, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
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