From school health to integrated health: expanding our children's public mental health system

Acad Psychiatry. 2014 Aug;38(4):405-8. doi: 10.1007/s40596-014-0174-z. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


There is a substantial unmet need for mental health and substance abuse services in the USA. In 2009, the Institute of Medicine recommended increased early identification and intervention for young people with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. With the expansion of integrated models in primary care settings, we now have the chance to improve outcomes for young people with mental health conditions, just as we have by improving the early identification and treatment of other preventable and/or treatable conditions such as obesity, asthma, or HIV. This is a moment of great opportunity to fundamentally change how young people access mental health care in our country. Through strategic integration of care, we can increase access to care for those who would not seek out mental health services because of the stigma or inconvenience of reaching out to a mental health provider; we can identify those who need care earlier and reduce the impact of mental illness on individuals, family, and community through early identification and treatment; and we can purposefully embed integration into provider training programs for both primary care and mental health providers to ensure sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Psychiatry / education*
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry / education*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • School Health Services / standards*