NAPNAP Joins National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Celebrations

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2017

Justin T. Worsley
917-746-8299 * jworsley@napnap.org

NAPNAP Joins National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day Celebrations
Primary care integration, behavioral health expertise are representative’s focus for webcast

NEW YORK, May 1, 2017 – The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) has joined more than 1,100 communities across the country in celebrating the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, May 4 to highlight the importance of children’s mental health. This year, the national focus of Awareness Day is behavioral health and primary care integration.

Since NAPNAP’s inception in 1973, the association and its members have offered children, youth and adolescents diagnosed with mental health disorders the services and support they need to be healthy and productive at home, at school and in the community. NAPNAP experts have created a wealth of resources for both healthcare providers and families. These include a comprehensive guide to resources for providers developed by NAPNAP’s Developmental Behavioral and Mental Health Special Interest Group (DBMH SIG) and found on its dbmhresource.org site. NAPNAP’s Mental Health Facts webpage, napnap.org/mental-health-facts, is a toolkit is for both families and healthcare providers. “A Practical Guide to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Screening, Early Intervention and Health Promotion, second edition,” is another comprehensive resource that provides all types of healthcare providers with the tools necessary to assess and screen for behavioral and mental health conditions.

To celebrate Awareness Day, NAPNAP’s DBMH SIG Co-Chair Kimberly J. Erlich, MSN, RN, MPH, CPNP, PMHS will participate in SAMHA’s live webcast, “Partnering for Health and Hope,” on Thursday, May 4 at 7 p.m. Erlich is the project coordinator and nurse practitioner for the Mills-Peninsula Health Services (Sutter Health) Adolescent Behavioral Health Project. The project aims to integrate behavioral health services with primary care pediatrics.

“It is imperative for us to have an open and ongoing conversation about children's mental health,” said Erlich. “Twenty percent of youth have a behavioral disorder, and half of all cases of serious mental illness present by age 14.  One-hundred percent of them need appropriate treatment, whether they suffer from depression due to a short-term situation at home or have behavioral symptoms such as anxiety related to a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or a severe food allergy. Early detection is key. Pediatric nurse practitioners and family nurse practitioners are on the front lines of primary care and, given their relationships with patients and families, are well-positioned to screen for behavioral health issues, initiate treatment if indicated, and refer to and collaborate with mental health colleagues when necessary for the best possible patient outcome.”  

 “Partnering for Health and Hope” brings together healthcare providers, family and youth organizations, families and young adults to have a discussion about integrating physical and behavioral health. The event will include three panels, which will address timely topics related to integrating mental health and primary care, while also taking questions from the audience or social media followers. Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt will serve as the honorary chairpersons for this event.

“NAPNAP is pleased to participate in Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day,” said NAPNAP President Laura Searcy, MN, APRN, PPCNP-BC. “It is vitally important to raise awareness about the large numbers of youth affected by behavioral and mental health conditions and build capacity to prevent, recognize and provide treatment and referral in primary health care settings. We encourage both pediatric providers and parents to use the behavioral and mental health resources available on napnap.org. I look forward to Thursday night’s webinar and I am excited about this opportunity for Kimberly to represent our organization, share her expertise, and highlight the role our members play in the critical issue of children’s behavioral and mental health treatment.”

For more details about Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and the “Partnering for Health and Hope” webcast, visit samhsa.gov/children/multimedia.

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The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation’s only professional association for pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) and their fellow pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who are dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,500 healthcare practitioners with 19 special interest groups and 50 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children’s health since 1973 and was the first NP society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused PNPs and their interprofessional partners to enhance child and family health through leadership, advocacy, professional practice, education and research. NAPNAP.org