Our goal of building healthier communities by making health care local can be especially challenging when it comes to pediatric mental health access in rural communities.
But thanks to a $50,000 grant from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia to the West Virginia University School of Medicine, a new program will give the state’s pediatric health providers easier access to child and adolescent mental health resources.
The Pediatric Mental Health Telephone Access Line program, overseen by the school’s Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, will support frontline pediatricians, family medicine practitioners, and school health care providers by connecting children and adolescent psychiatrists by phone for informal consultation, advice and guidance.
“This generous gift from Aetna will be a gift to the children and the future of our state,” said Dr. Lauren W.M. Swager, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at WVU, who will serve as the clinical director of the Pediatric Mental Health telephone access line. “This program can help us build health and mental health access back into our most rural communities so our state’s children can continue to receive treatment in their pediatrician’s office.”
Todd White, CEO of Aetna Better Health of West Virginia, stated during the check presentation, “Being a trauma informed care organization, our Medicaid managed care health plan is honored to work with our partners at WVU to address the mental health needs of our state’s children.”
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends at least 47 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children and adolescents. Despite these guidelines, West Virginia claims only 9 practicing psychiatrists per 100,000 children and adolescents, with only 32 total practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists in the state.