Each year, the AAP Section on Pediatric Trainees organizes an advocacy campaign that addresses a pressing public health issue related to children and adolescents. This year’s campaign, Unite for Kids Mental Health, educates trainees on how to address this important topic in their clinics and institutions. It also provides ideas to pursue advocacy related to mental health.
The year-long campaign has been divided into quarters. The quarterly topics include school and community-based mental health, substance use in the pediatric population, mental health for patients with unique health care needs, and the effects of adverse childhood experiences and systemic racism on mental health. Each quarter, the section is partnering with other AAP sections and councils to provide trainees with access to resources to help them shape their advocacy projects.
So far, two online webinars have been held. The first was a town hall forum in which representatives from each of the section’s districts brainstormed ideas to implement the campaign in their districts and institutions. During the second webinar, Deepa R. Camenga, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician from the Yale School of Medicine specializing in substance use in teenagers and a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Use and Prevention, discussed using appropriate, nonjudgmental terminology when approaching substance use. She also provided examples of ways to advocate for substance use screening. Additional webinars are planned for the upcoming two quarters.
A legislative day of action will be held in May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, in collaboration with the AAP legislative advocacy team. Participants will advocate for federal legislation related to pediatric and adolescent mental health.