Children's Mental Health Care in NYS Gets Much-Needed Help with Program Headed by UB Psychiatrist

Release Date: June 1, 2012

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Across the nation and New York State, there are too few child psychiatrists to meet the demand, says UB's Kaye; he heads a new state program that will help.

Buffalo, N.Y. -- Childrens' psychosocial problems are among the most common reasons for pediatric office visits. But, because there is a critical shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists in the nation and in New York State, many pediatricians and family physicians end up providing much of their patients' psychiatric care.

Through 2014, New York State pediatricians and family physicians will be getting some much-needed help, thanks to a project being led by David Kaye, MD, professor of psychiatry in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Kaye is project director on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for Primary Care (CAP PC), a $2.4 million grant led by UB and funded by New York State that is designed to address problems stemming from the critical shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists.

"Across the U.S., we have large numbers of children with mental health needs and few child psychiatrists to care for them, and the situation in New York State is no different," Kaye says. "While other local or regional consultation programs exist around the country, there are only a few statewide programs and CAP PC is the first in the U.S. to include a comprehensive educational component."

The educational component involves providing to primary care physicians a Mini Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, a training program developed by the REACH Institute, which helps health care providers treat the mental health needs of children and adolescents.

The CAP PC grant supports a program in which psychiatrists and other mental health professionals with a minimum of master's level training, provide educational and consultative services through a toll-free help-line for primary care physicians throughout New York State to help them treat young patients with mild to moderate mental health needs.

"The goal of the CAP PC program is not only to support primary care physicians by providing consultations, but also to improve their skills in assessment and management of child mental health problems," says Kaye, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at UB.

The service is available from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to respond in real time to requests for assistance from pediatricians and family physicians, providing information about medications, therapy, referrals and resources they can access locally. More information is available at

Kaye stresses that the program is for mild to moderate cases, not emergencies or those that clearly belong in the mental health system. "CAP PC is designed to provide assistance on cases where the child can be managed successfully in the primary care setting," he says.

From 2006 to 2011, Kaye addressed similar issues with the Rapid Pediatric Psychiatric Consultation project that he had been awarded from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.

New York's CAP PC program grew out of an effort that involved the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians along with the New York State Office of Mental Health to discuss ways to remedy the shortage of physicians who could address childrens' mental health issues. The funding of the CAP PC, Kaye notes, dovetails with federal and state initiatives to create medical homes, which are designed to meet all of a patients' physical and mental health care needs.

Kaye's collaborators on the project at UB are Steve Dubovsky, MD, Ken Leonard, PhD, Beth Smith, MD, and Alex Cogswell, PhD, all in the Department of Psychiatry. Other institutions collaborating with UB on CAP PC are the University of Rochester, Columbia University, SUNY Upstate and Long Island Jewish/North Shore University.

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