UAMS and Arkansas Children's are developing a program to equip and support primary care providers across the state to screen, diagnose, treat and refer children with behavioral health conditions.
The program, called Children of Arkansas Mental Health in Primary Care, is funded by $2.1 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It aims to link primary care physicians around the state with a pediatric mental health care team for initial and ongoing education, consultation and referral of patients who are under 18 years old.
The pediatric mental health care team will consist of a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a pediatric psychologist and a care manager, UAMS said in a news release.
Arkansas Children’s will serve as the program manager in collaboration with the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and the Arkansas Department of Health.
The principal investigator for the grant will be Dr. Chris Smith, professor and vice chair for primary care in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and medical director of primary care services at Arkansas Children’s.
“This program will allow us to set up much-needed support for primary care providers around the state who are the first point of contact for many of these children,” Smith said in the release.
The first year of the four-year project will focus on assembling and hiring staff, conducting a needs survey of providers in the network, conducting patient focus groups, designing curriculum for sessions and establishing a telehealth process.
The second year will focus on analysis of the program’s first year’s results and expansion to additional practices. The final two years will focus on consolidation and expansion, and sustainability.