Peds PCPs Learn to Call Project TEACH for Mental Health Services

Free, unlimited consultations, referrals, and training “brings the teaching to us where we are in the community.”

Michele Bailey-Ingram MD, had never heard of Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children’s Health) before she received a flyer last year for CME programs at her Mayfield Pediatrics practice. The programs were free and at convenient times, so she attended two — and found them so helpful that she has returned for even more programs this year. “Even though I had been in practice for over fourteen years, most of us are not always confident taking care of patients with mental health issues. These programs are very welcoming and teach us how to integrate mental health care into a busy general pediatrics practice,” said Dr. Bailey-Ingram.

Project TEACH, which is funded by the NYS Office of Mental Health, supports Pediatric Primary Care Providers (PCPs) who deliver care to children and families who have mental health concerns. The program comprises consultations, referrals, and training, and is easy to use — just make a phone call to access a child and adolescent psychiatrist within four hours. Project TEACH is completely free for all pediatric primary care providers and other prescribers who treat children, including child and adolescent psychiatrists, general psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners. The program was recently expanded by Gov. Cuomo to include screenings for maternal depression.

“So far, I have used Project TEACH services three times with three different patients,” continued Dr. Bailey-Ingram. “Not many local psychiatrists will take the time to speak with us, but after speaking with a social worker liaison at Project TEACH, I got a call back from a child psychiatrist within two hours. We discussed clinical presentation, past history, and past therapies; they also assist with complicated patients and will provide assistance to get them into a psychiatrist’s office or outpatient clinic. The patient can get the help they need sooner than if I was trying to do it on my own. They provide cognitive, psychiatric, and medication consultations and follow up. The services are very responsive and very helpful.”

Dr. Bailey-Ingram was impressed with the quality of the CME programs, which include lectures and distribution of resource materials. “I found that the laminated ADHD medication guide was a very practical tool: How to start, what to start with, and what is safest for children.” In addition to the educational value, the training programs are venues for PCPs to meet their peers and learn from them. “At one training, other pediatricians were able to share how they incorporate this into their busy practices. I have not experienced this elsewhere,” she said.

Project TEACH also offers the opportunity to train on-site for groups of five or more — whether or not the participants are from the same practice. The topics can be very broad: ADHD, childhood depression, childhood anxiety, suicide, and even reimbursement for mental health care components. The training also discusses screening tools, the best way to use them, and how to interpret and to incorporate them into the flow of a busy practice.

“Project TEACH brings the teaching to us where we are in the community,” said Dr. Bailey-Ingram, “and has given me new confidence and tools to treat my patients and families with mental health issues.”

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