WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Research from Youth.gov estimates 75% to 80% of children in need of mental health services don’t get it. In response, Palm Beach Pediatrics has a new partnership that fully integrates mental health into primary pediatric care affecting the lives of approximately 20,000 patients.
There's "play therapy" or evidence-based intervention for mental health happening inside Palm Beach Pediatrics.
"As physicians — we care," said Shannon Fox-Levine, MD, Palm Beach Pediatrics Society president. "This isn’t just mental health this is overall physical development that in time can cause you to have medical problems."
But Fox-Levine said finding quality mental health services for close to 20,000 patients has been a challenge.
"Ten percent have depression and anxiety. About 9% have ADHD," she said.
And Fox-Levine said the numbers climbed long before COVID-19.
"Mental health issues with children was an epidemic long before the pandemic," she said.
Which led to a new partnership with the Center for Child Counseling that was years in the making.
"Mental health therapists that are on-site will be able to provide on-site services, school-based services, home-based services or community-based services depending on the families' need," said Renee Layman, Center for Child Counseling CEO.
It ensures all patients from infant to 21 have immediate on-site access to mental health services, consultation, crisis intervention and referrals.
"No matter what the insurance — being able to refer to quality mental health programs," Fox-Levine said.
And there are other disparities in Palm Beach County. The Center for Child Counseling said Black, Brown and LGBTQ youth are reporting higher levels of anxiety, toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.
"It's discrimination. It's bullying," Layman said. "Maybe coming out and you’re afraid to and you don’t feel like you have the supportive relationships in your life to come out. Or if you’re a Brown boy walking down the street not knowing if you’re safe. Or walking into a store and feeling discriminated against or having the police follow you."
Palm Beach Pediatrics said eating disorders among youth has also risen within the last year. The new partnership should be fully staffed and operational by November.
To learn more about this new partnership or for more information about other services available within Palm Beach Pediatrics visit here.