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 mreddy@hrsa.gov with questions.

  • Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention – created by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), in collaboration with experts from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as an educational resource to support pediatric health clinicians and other health professionals in identifying strategies and key partnerships to support youth at risk for suicide.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

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