Recognizing the dramatic increase of mental health conditions and suicidal ideation among children and adolescents, enhanced by fear, loss and prolonged periods of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) joins our pediatric colleagues, the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), in the call for swift action to address the national emergency in children’s mental health.
NAPNAP members include certified pediatric mental health specialists (PMHS) who champion evidence-based pediatric behavioral and mental health care innovations. NAPNAP’s Developmental, Behavioral and Mental Health Special Interest Group has built an online educational resource inclusive of evidence-based pediatric mental health screening tools, treatment guidelines and community resources available for deployment. NAPNAP and its Partners for Vulnerable Youth are preparing to launch an adolescent suicide prevention campaign designed to enhance health professional suicide prevention efforts and prevent loss of child and adolescent lives.
“As front-line pediatric health experts, every pediatric-focused nurse practitioner must be prepared to evaluate and intervene on behalf of a child or adolescent who is suffering from a mental health condition,” said NAPNAP President Andrea Kline-Tilford, PhD, CPNP-AC/PC. “Each patient visit must include surveillance of mental health status and a strength-based focus that promotes resilience among youth.”
NAPNAP urges all pediatric health care providers to equip themselves with knowledge and skills to screen for mental health conditions and effectively intervene to ensure safety and promote healthy growth and development. We ask for local, state and federal public health agencies to allocate funding that will assure access to pediatric-focused mental health services, promote and pay for trauma-informed healthcare services and enable effective mental health care delivery in communities, schools and via telehealth. The children of our nation are relying on policymakers and pediatric health care providers to address this mental health crisis. Immediate collaborative and strategic action will save lives and improve the life-long outcomes of our youth.
For additional resources on pediatric mental health:
- NAPNAP Position Statement on the Integration of Mental Health Care in Pediatric Primary Care Settings.
- Clinical practice resources
- Developmental, Behavioral and Mental Health SIG resources
Oct. 21, 2021