Many Children Lack Access to Mental Health Care

Posted: 11/17/2019

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. children are diagnosed with a mental disorder. 20% of those with a mental disorder receive care from a specialized care provider for mental health.

Barriers to pediatric mental health speciality care

  • parents may be reluctant to seek professional help

  • cost

  • not enough mental health providers to meet demand

  • lack of access to specialized providers

  • long waiting lists

  • lack of insurance coverage

Pediatric primary care:

9 in 10 children receive regular medical care from a primary car provider, but 1 in 3 pediatricians report that they have sufficient training to diagnose and treat children with mental disorders.

Specialized care providers for mental health

  • child and adolescent psychiatrists

  • child psychologists

  • behavioral therapists

Improving Access to Mental Health Care through Behavioral Health Integration

BHI is an approach to delivering mental health care that makes it easier for primary care providers to include mental and behavioral health screening, treatment and specialty care into their practice. It can take different forms, but BHI always involves collaborations between primary care providers and specialized care providers for mental health.

Phone consultation

The primary care provider can receive consultation by phone about a diagnosis and treatment plan from the care provider for mental health.

BHI can result in

  • better outcomes for children and youth

  • more efficient and coordinated care

  • higher treatment rates

  • reduced parental stress

  • improved consumer satisfaction

Practicing together

The primary care practice has a care provider for mental health practicing on-site who is responsible for screening and referrals and may provide therapy. This is often called co-location.

Improving referrals and communication

A care coordinator manages referrals to care provider for mental health and needed social services and maintain communication between the primary care practice and care providers for mental health.

Learn more at CDC:


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