Early Detection is Key
Today, one in five adolescents in America suffer from developmental, mental or behavioral health illnesses. In order for these children to avoid serious, adverse outcomes as they get older, it is critical for these illnesses to be detected early. Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) and their fellow pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) play a key role in early detection for mental and behavioral health issues in children and teens.
Mental health/psychosocial morbidities are surpassing physical health issues, including asthma and diabetes, in children today. Several factors play a role in this, including: family instability and malfunctioning, stigma associated with mental health problems/treatment, access to care and reimbursement issues, lack of screening and genetics.
Every encounter a pediatric-focused APRN has with a child is an opportunity to screen them for mental health issues. Additionally, PNPs can offer counseling and educational information to both the child and parent if they detect a mental health issue. Due to the stigma associated with developmental, behavioral and mental health issues, many parents may be apprehensive about discussing the subject. Screening tools can help open the door to a conversation about mental health issues and the role parents play.
Additional Information for Providers
- Integration of Mental Health Care in Pediatric Primary Care Settings - NAPNAP's latest position statement on pediatric mental health.
- DBMH Resource - Created by our Developmental, Behavioral and Mental Health Special Interest Group, DBMH Resource gives you access to more than 35 resources on behavioral and mental health topics.
- Journal of Pediatric Health Care - Our highly-cited journal offering several scholarly articles on mental health.
- Developmental, Behavioral and Mental Health Special Interest Group - Member-only network for those who have a strong interest in the developmental, behavioral and mental health needs of young children.
- NAPNAP's Practical Guide to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Screening, Early Intervention, and Health Promotion, 2nd Edition - This book provides pediatric-focused APRNs with the tools to assess/screen for a mental health or psychosocial problem in children and teens and includes information related to prevention, screening, intervention and management of mental health disorders.
- Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit - A small change at your office can make a large difference for your patients. This toolkit provides you with the keys to build a strong team geared towards a child's social and emotional health.
- CDC Mental Health Information - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website includes basic information as well as publications and data statistics.
- MentalHealth.gov - A federal online resource that discusses the early warning signs for mental health situations and provides resources for approaching someone about their mental health. Some resources also available in Spanish.
- National Institute of Mental Health's Child and Mental Health page - NIMH's website provides publications, statistics, educational resources and information on treatment.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - SAMHSA provides information on both mental health and substance abuse through programs they run, data and publications.
- SAMHSA Community Conversations About Mental Health - This toolkit provides resources designed to help promote mental health and access to treatment and recovery services within the community.
- Intersecting Identities: Improving Health Outcomes for LGBTQI2-S Youth of Color - This on-demand webisode offers a rich discussion about issues affecting LGBTQI2-S youth of color and ways to help providers, afterschool program facilitators, families and youth understand the intersection of identites and challenges associated with trauma, suicide and resilience.
Additional Information for Patients and Parents