Children's Mental and Behavioral Health:
Texas has a relatively young population, with about 28 percent of Texans under the age of 18. TMA recognizes that many mental health disorders of childhood are the basis of both physical and mental disease throughout an entire lifespan. Childhood and adolescence are critical times for brain development; consequently, many mental disorders develop during these periods.
Managing mental health disorders among children requires multiple strategies.
Physician Education. All physicians should have adequate information that enables them to recognize common mental disorders. Primary care physicians should be provided educational tools regarding the screening, diagnosis, and current available treatment modalities for mental disorders such as attention deficit disorder, mild depression, and mild anxiety. TMA can provide resources for physicians on national screening and treatment guidelines, and billing and coding information.
Practice. Access to care remains a critical issue for children and adolescents with mental health disorders, especially underserved children. A physician-led medical home, therefore, can play an important role in recognizing, consulting, and treating children with mental health disorders by following the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for screening children and adolescents for mental health disorders.
All physicians who see and treat children should be able to recognize and either treat or refer children with obvious mental illness including substance abuse disorder.
Because school is the "workplace of the child," primary care physicians should have knowledge of the demands and resources of their local school districts.
Advocacy. TMA should facilitate and advocate for:
a. Continuing mental health education programs for physicians and mental health care providers regarding child and adolescent mental health and substance abuse,
b. Medical schools and graduate medical education programs that recognize the role of primary care physicians and provide effective training and research in all aspects of child and adolescent mental health and substance abuse,
c. Continuing dialogue and networking with the public mental health community on these issues,
d. Minimizing youth exposure to advertisements for legal addicting substances,
e. Positive mental health messages that counteract tobacco and alcohol advertisements,
f. Strong children's mental health networks throughout the state,
g. Emphasizing pediatric mental health education for all physicians who see children,
h. Adequate numbers and quality of mental health professionals throughout the state,
i. Coordinating with the educational system for mentally healthy schools, and
j. Public and private payment systems that fully integrate mental health care services into primary patient care and provide appropriate payment for mental health services. (CM-CAH Rep. 1-A-01; substituted CM-CAH Rep. 1-A-11).