Mental Health Facts - NAPNAP

Mental Health Facts

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.

The Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Program helps pediatric providers screen, treat or refer children and adolescents with behavioral health concerns using telehealth. In 2020, nurse practitioners were one of the most common provider types to benefit from PMHCA’s training, consultation and referral services.

PMHCA pediatric mental health teams in state and regional networks use evidence-based practices through web-based education and training to help providers provide timely detection, assessment, treatment, and referrals.

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau funds 45 PMHCA programs nationwide in in 40 states, three jurisdictions and two Tribal nations. Find out whether there is a PMHCA program in your state and how to connect with teleconsultation and other resources. Contact Madhavi Reddy at with questions.

Visit our behavioral and mental health resources page specifically developed for patients and families.

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