"On Parenting: Getting a Doctor to Face Behavioral Concerns" [usnews.com] overlooks the many ways that pediatricians are effecting change in this area.
In response to its members' concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made children's mental health a top priority and established a special Mental Health Task Force. With mental health professionals, pediatricians have developed improved tools and resources with which to approach these issues, which is especially important in communities with few child psychiatrists. Pediatricians offer many advantages for addressing children's mental health, including a trusting relationship with children and family members; opportunities for early identification, treatment, and referral to intervention services; and a real understanding of not only children's medical but also their social, emotional, and educational needs. There are many examples of pediatricians who have developed innovative mental health programs despite limitations on payment to primary care doctors for these services. But improving children's mental health care also will require changes in systems at the community, state, and national levels and broad efforts to address the stigma families feel in acknowledging mental health concerns. To learn more, visit http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/behavior.cfm.
Renee R. Jenkins, M.D., FAAP
American Academy of Pediatrics
Elk Grove Village, Ill.