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-focused 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.