New network provides help to East Texas doctors treating children, teens with mental health issues

New network provides help to East Texas doctors treating children, teens with mental health issues

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Doctors across East Texas now have access to experts who can help them identify and treat mental health issues in their child and adolescent patients.

The Child Psychiatry Access Network is a free consultation program for doctors to use when dealing with mental health diagnoses for children. UTHSCT is one of 12 hubs in Texas and covers 25 counties in Northeast Texas.

Laura Young, the senior program manager for CPAN, tells KLTV the program will help fill a gap when it comes to treating children who have behavioral or mental health needs.

“One of the challenges that we have in Northeast Texas is that we have limited mental health resources and we have even more limitation for services to meet the needs of children. So, this is really an adjunct to the care that that provider can give to their patient,” Young said. “About one-fourth to one-third of the children with either behavioral health needs or mental health needs are seen in their primary care provider’s office. If you think about that, there’s definitely a need for that adjunct support for those providers.”

More from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler:

East Texas pediatricians and primary care providers have a new ally to address behavioral and mental health issues for their child and adolescent patients. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) is the East Texas hub for the Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN) which begins Monday, September 14, providing doctors throughout East Texas access to child and adolescent psychiatrists and licensed mental health therapists to assist them in identifying and treating mental health issues in their young patients.

CPAN enables free and immediate psychiatric support to pediatricians and primary healthcare providers seeking to address the behavioral health needs of their child and adolescent patients. Calls are quickly answered and are directed to the appropriate professional to meet the healthcare provider and patient needs. Available to every primary care provider in Texas who cares for children and adolescents, CPAN also can help pediatricians locate referrals for mental health providers in local communities and provide mental health resources and relevant continuing medical education credit opportunities to the physicians.

Senate Bill 11, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott last June, established the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC) which created the new networking program, CPAN, and the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program that will deploy in East Texas schools in October to provide schoolchildren with direct tele-psychiatric assessments, referrals and limited care with parental consent.

“Due to limited psychiatric resources available in rural Northeast Texas, obtaining mental health services can be quite challenging,” said Laura Young, the CPAN senior program manager at UTHSCT. “When you include the child or adolescent component, the challenge becomes exponentially greater. That’s where CPAN comes in. Our child and adolescent psychiatrists and therapists provide real-time consultation to the pediatricians and family medicine providers who are on the front lines caring for the children and adolescents in our region. We anticipate our CPAN team will quickly become a trusted resource for primary care physicians in our region when meeting the mental health needs of our most vulnerable population — our children.”

East Texas pediatricians and healthcare providers can call the central CPAN phone number at (888) 901-CPAN (2726) and, after a simple enrollment process, can connect within 30 minutes with a child and adolescent psychiatric specialist in their region. CPAN in East Texas serves the 25-county northeast region of Texas. For more information, email CPAN at CPANinfo@uthct.edu.

The TCMHCC was created to leverage the expertise and capacity of all 13 state-funded health related institutions of higher education to increase access to mental healthcare for children and adolescents. The University of Texas System is the administrative support entity for TCMHCC. UTHSCT is represented on the consortium by Dr. Jeffery Matthews, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, and Brittney Nichols, administrative director for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

In addition to CPAN and TCHATT, the TCMHCC also funded initiatives to increase the number of child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship programs and funded psychiatry positions to increase collaboration with local mental health authorities. Both CPAN and TCHATT provide training and education to healthcare providers and school staff respectively to improve mental healthcare for children and adolescents.

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