Giving Compass' Take:

• Seattle Children's Hospital details three innovative programs that they started in order to address mental health care for young people. These include an access mental health line for primary care doctors, classes for mental health first aid, and a children's clinic in the Seattle area. 

• What are some factors that make it difficult to treat mental illness? How are these initiatives an important step toward creating awareness and treatment of mental health issues?

• Read about how mental health affects educational outcomes, and the importance of young people getting the help they need. 

There is a tremendous need for improved access to mental health care and resources for children and teens nationwide. At Seattle Children’s, its commitment to helping address this need spans not only within the Seattle community, but throughout the region.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety or depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, and Tourette syndrome. While early intervention is key in managing mental health issues, only about 20% of children with disorders receive care from a specialized mental health care provider.

The following describes three of the many innovative programs and initiatives that Seattle Children’s offers to help improve mental health care for all children:

  1.  Partnership Access Line (PAL), a program that supports primary care providers such as doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with questions about mental health care such as diagnostic clarification, medication adjustment or treatment planning.
  2. Youth Mental Health First Aid: In order to help address the increasing mental health needs of today’s youth, Seattle Children’s is offering a new class, which aims to give adults who regularly interact with young people, such as parents, family members, caregivers, teachers and coaches, the tools they need in order to help an adolescent in crisis or who is experiencing a mental health challenge.
  3. Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC): Provides health care services, including mental health, to five central Seattle elementary schools and runs the Garfield Teen Health Center (GTHC) at Garfield High School. The school-based program helps to address mental health care needs in the community and increases accessibility by meeting children where they are, in the schools.

Read the full article about mental health programs by  Anna Altavas, Lyra Fontaine and Kathryn Mueller at Seattle Children's Foundation