“As a community pediatrician, my practice has benefited immeasurably from the services provided by VMAP. Prior to recent events, it was already estimated that one in five children and adolescents suffer from behavioral health disorders. Unfortunately, recent social, economic, and health care stressors on families and individuals have not surprisingly led to a spike in behavioral health conditions. Telehealth has extended some accessibility to care, but primary care providers need to have the training and confidence to manage these disorders.
Our patients have a multitude of barriers that prevent them from receiving the vital care that they need. Through VMAP supported education programs like REACH and ECHO, our providers have been equipped with the tools necessary to provide prompt evaluation and treatment for common disorders such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD, right in the patients’ medical home. Even with this training and education, the medical management of individuals who suffer from mental health disorders can often present unpredictable challenges. VMAP’s telephone consult line provides primary care providers with a ‘lifeline’ to discuss more complex cases with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. This consultation gives the treating clinician the necessary back-up and confidence to manage medications, rather than referring patients out to navigate an overburdened system that could take months to access. The combination of VMAP-supported education/training and utilization of the telephone consult line has undoubtedly prevented many patients in our practice from escalating to a crisis situation resulting in an emergency room visit, inpatient hospitalization, and even worse outcomes.
As an organizer of one of the regional VMAP-supported REACH fellowships, and as a current faculty of one of the ECHO teaching collaboratives, I can attest that pediatricians are desperately seeking to improve their ability to treat their patients’ behavioral health needs. There are many on a waitlist to take part in REACH training, and there has been robust participation in ECHO education collaboratives. Now, more than ever, the mental health of our pediatric population is at risk and requires our attention. Please continue to support the children and families of the Commonwealth of Virginia by funding VMAP!”