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“Help is on the way” not quick enough for kids’ mental health treatment

Marty Levine
May09/ 2014

NPR’s “Shots” blog notes a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences that shows how kids can benefit from having brief mental and behavioral health treatments during their regular pediatric physician visits.

“Children are much more likely to get help if the counselor is right there in the doctor’s office,” NPR says.

Led by David Kolko, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics, the study looked at kids with behavior problems as well as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety. Of the 321 children studied, averaging eight years old, about 66 percent were boys. Half had counseling at their primary care physician’s office, while the other half were referred to counselors.

Nearly all the kids given mental health counseling right in their doctor’s office began treatment, as opposed to slightly fewer than half those forced to seek a second appointment with a counselor.

“It’s not only convenience, but easy access to a familiar setting,” Kolko told NPR. Plus, “parent and children don’t feel the stigma of going for counseling, since it’s in a pediatrics setting.”

Kolko is now working to promote this practice more widely.

Marty Levine