The process may be challenging, but primary care providers incorporating depression and anxiety treatment into their adolescent practice have a “wonderful opportunity” to support families and make an important difference in the lives of teens.
Those were the opening thoughts from adolescent mental health expert Jefferson Prince, MD, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of child psychiatry for the North Shore Medical Center in Salem, MA. Dr. Prince took on the issues of adolescent mental health in primary care with more than 250 providers who attended our webinar What Can I Do With All the Depressed or Anxious Teens in My Practice?: Practical Strategies for the Primary Care Provider.
In an engaging and supportive discussion, Dr. Prince told providers that their longstanding relationships with teens and their parents can increase receptivity to screening, diagnosis and treatment. They can open the dialogue, let teens and parents know that depression and anxiety are common and give the family hope that the situation can improve. Importantly, providers can help parents “navigate the dilemma of medication” and work as partners in helping their teen feel better.
Through a comprehensive review of current treatment strategies, Dr. Prince also offered his insights on efficacy, side effects, tapering, and the role of complementary therapies. But, he also emphasized the need for providers to seek help when they too need it – accessing resources, referring, and calling on parents to share the responsibility.
“As you try to process all that the families bring, it can be very rewarding to treat (teens) and see them get well,” he said. “But, never worry alone. Share the burden with your colleagues.”