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AAP launches Pediatric Mental Health Education Center with major multi-year grant

June 1, 2024

The AAP has received a three-year grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to launch a Pediatric Mental Health Education Center (PMHEC) that will strengthen pediatricians’ preparedness to address the needs of children, especially those in under resourced communities.

The AAP also has joined the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health, which brings together key leaders to address children’s mental health concerns, including stress, anxiety and depression.

“Pediatricians are often the first and sometimes only medical professional to see an adolescent or even younger children with mental health conditions,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D., who serves on the Alliance’s advisory board. “As trusted care providers, pediatricians can best serve the needs of their patients and families when they are equipped with essential education and resources. This Alliance, which is providing vital resources, is working to ensure that every child has access to mental health care.”

The PMHEC will equip pediatricians and partners with the knowledge, tools and connections to integrate mental health supports into their practices and communities. Educational opportunities will include learning collaboratives on the Project ECHO platform, in-person and virtual courses, asynchronous online courses and skill-based mini workshops with simulation. Offerings will be eligible for continuing medical education and Maintenance of Certification Part 2 credits. Funding from Morgan Stanley will help launch learning communities through the ECHO platform to support pediatricians who work in under resourced communities.

Pediatricians, subspecialists and clinicians will take a readiness assessment to determine which opportunities best meet their interest/capacity and then will be provided with options to facilitate education in pediatric mental health.

Topics will include:

  • integrating mental health care services into pediatric primary and subspecialty care;
  • healthy mental/emotional development, relational health, social drivers of health and resilience skills;
  • developmental and health impacts of trauma and guidance on effective screening and surveillance tools;
  • provision of strength-based, trauma-informed, family-centered care; and
  • identification, screening, assessment and management of specific mental and emotional health conditions, including anxiety, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, substance use and co-management of complex conditions with a mental health specialist.

The PMHEC will help pediatricians and pediatric office staff understand and address diverse patient and family populations’ unique needs. Pediatricians will be able to share programs and tools with patients, families, schools and community partners to enhance mental health literacy and build a safety net to support youth in their homes, schools and communities.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAP, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health in 2021. The organizations called on policymakers at all levels of government and advocates for children to increase funding and efforts to support children and adolescents facing mental health challenges.

A shortage of mental health providers has pushed many families to seek help at overtaxed emergency departments, with children waiting hours or days for urgent treatment.

To date, the Morgan Stanley Alliance has benefited more than 37 million children, caregivers and educators globally; granted $1.5 million to 15 nonprofits to scale their mental health care solutions across the United States; provided $100,000 grants to more than 85 nonprofits to address unmet needs in children's mental health care, especially among disadvantaged and vulnerable populations; and driven research and meetings on the pandemic’s impact, problematic internet usage, the metaverse and digital parenting, among other topics.

“The mental health crisis is too big for anyone to tackle alone,” said Joan Steinberg, president of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and CEO of the Alliance Advisory Board. “We hope our announcement will encourage others to help reduce the significant funding gap in this space and advocate for the mental well-being of countless children and youth.”

Members of the Alliance include the Child Mind Institute, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, The Jed Foundation, Mind HK, New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Place2Be, The Steve Fund and Sesame Workshop.

For more information about the Alliance, visit https://bit.ly/4aZ4nmU.

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