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Montefiore in the News

April 14, 2016

Providers, Families, Community Organizations and Policy-Makers Convene to Address
Early Prevention of Mental Illness


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 and associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “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 -!primary-care-briefing/j2vyt and to register go to -!briefing-registration/tjfnd. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #powerofparenting