Nationally Recognized Pediatric Health Experts Conduct Congressional Briefing on Prevention of Behavioral Health Problems

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NEW YORK (April 12, 2016) – The numbers are numbing: up to 20 percent of children in the U.S. have a mental illness. Tackling this health crisis of pediatric behavioral and mental health is a coalition of the nation’s top experts. On Tuesday, April 19 the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Board of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Social Work and the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health, along with recognized prevention leaders like Montefiore Health System, The Pennsylvania State University and University of Washington, will hold a Congressional briefing on evidence-based programs that are already making inroads to prevent and potentially reverse this trend.

Behavioral health issues cost America $247 billion per year, with problems spanning disruptive and defiant behaviors; anxiety and depressive symptoms; tobacco, alcohol and drug misuse, and aggression and violence.  Embedding mental health providers into the medical practices of pediatricians and family physicians is one of the changes making it possible to holistically prevent and address behavioral illnesses early.

“Pediatricians have the remarkable privilege of working with children and families on a daily basis; all of us need help, education and support in positive parenting to enhance early brain development in our children and to help them thrive,” said Benard P. Dreyer, M.D., F.A.A.P., president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Though this integrated model of care has been effective in enhancing quality of care for families of young children and improving selected parenting practices, several barriers keep families and children from participating in or receiving interventions that can provide lasting impact.

“We must reform the status quo and enable pediatric care providers to adopt tested and effective programs to support parents and their children,” said Rahil D. Briggs, Psy.D., director, Pediatric Behavioral Health Services, Montefiore Health System. “Current financial barriers are short-sighted given the long-terms costs of not intervening early and properly. We need our elected representatives to make these programs an accessible option to improve the overall health of children in America.”

The briefing will include presentations from Incredible Years, Healthy Steps, Triple P and Familias Unidas programs which are already having a positive impact. Two families with life-changing experiences thanks to their participation in such programs will share their personal accounts. Co-hosts include Senator Patty Murray, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

“Mental health care is critical at every stage of life, and so we must ensure our system can address every patient’s needs, whether that patient is a child or an adult,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “Thanks to the hard work of advocates and experts, including many who will be at the briefing, we are making progress toward treatment that better recognizes and better responds to emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues for our children. I am proud to support their efforts, and I'll continue pushing hard in Congress for bipartisan legislation that addresses our country’s mental health crisis. 

During the briefing speakers will review the personal, social and economic costs of behavioral health problems in children and youth, and discuss the potential for widespread promotion of children’s health by providing these programs through primary health care.

“Our overarching goal is to ensure our certified pediatricians are thoroughly trained to address mental health issues, drive awareness and increase access to these services, resulting in healthy children and empowered parents,” said Laurel K Leslie, M.D., M.P.H., American Board of Pediatrics.“Tackling a health crisis of this magnitude requires a commitment to radically changing how we approach children’s behavioral health and incorporating new ways of preventing, treating and managing behavioral issues. Having the U.S. Congress embrace this change is critical to our collective success.”

For more information on the April 19 briefing at Capitol Visitor’s Center, visit -http://www.npscoalition.org/#!primary-care-briefing/j2vyt and to register go to - http://www.npscoalition.org/#!briefing-registration/tjfnd. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #powerofparenting.

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About the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives
The National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives  (NPSC) is a nonprofit organization comprised of scientists (across disciplines), educators, community stakeholders, practitioners and clinicians, policy makers, advocates, and foundation representatives.  It was formed to promote the application of validated, science-based findings to wide-scale, effective implementation of prevention practices and policies.  In doing so, the NPSC addresses several areas of concern, such as mental and behavioral health, education, and environmental influences.  Additionally, it addresses adverse social conditions (particularly poverty) that contribute to both behavioral problems (e.g., poor self-regulation, drug and alcohol abuse, violence) and major chronic illnesses (e.g., asthma, diabetes, obesity, heart disease) that originate in childhood and become compounded in adulthood. Effective prevention of these multiple problems requires fostering environments from the prenatal period onward that nurture child and adolescent successful development.  The NPSC works in a bipartisan manner with congressional offices and caucuses, and with federal agency administrators and like-minded national and local organizations.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org or follow @AmerAcadPeds on Twitter and Facebook.

About the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health
The Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health (CPBH) is an interdisciplinary group of 70 researchers, policymakers, educators, and practitioners dedicated to advancing preventive interventions that promote behavioral health among young people from birth through age 24. The CPBH is implementing an action plan for Unleashing the Power of Prevention. The plan identifies seven action steps to decrease the prevalence of behavioral health problems in young people by 20 percent within a decade.  Unleashing the Power of Prevention was developed as a response to the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare’s (AASWSW) Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative. It is available on the National Academy of Medicine’s website at http://nam.edu/perspectives-2015-unleashing-the-power-of-prevention/. Visit our website http://aaswsw.org/grand-challenges-initiative/12-challenges/ensure-healthy-development-for-all-youth/

About Montefiore Health System
Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and close to 200 outpatient care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its’ medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its’ preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.

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