The National Association of Community Health Centers & TeenScreen National Center Partner on Adolescent Mental Health Screening
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 14, 2011
NEW YORK – The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and the TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University today announced a partnership to encourage routine mental health screening for adolescent patients in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Through NACHC’s work with TeenScreen, pediatric primary care providers at these health centers will now receive free access to evidence-based screening questionnaires for adolescent patients, supplemental educational materials about screening for families and office staff, technical assistance from TeenScreen, and opportunities to participate in monthly webinars on topics related to child and adolescent mental health in the primary care office.
Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers is dedicated exclusively to expanding health care access for America’s medically underserved through the community health center model. Its centers serve 23 million people at more than 8,000 sites located throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
“As an organization that shares our mission to expand and improve the early detection of mental illness in youth, we are delighted to be joining forces with the National Association of Community Health Centers,” said Laurie Flynn, Executive Director, TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University. “Being able to support their mission of providing excellent health care for those in need by making our free resources available to their community health centers will give their providers the tools to effectively and efficiently monitor the mental health of their adolescent patients. After all, we know that mental health – if left untreated – can be extremely detrimental to physical health and nearly every part of life.”
“The partnership with TeenScreen furthers NACHC’s commitment to assisting FQHCs to provide the highest quality care to all of the millions of people that FQHCs serve across the nation. As a group teens have often been neglected when screening for behavioral health disorders. We are proud to move forward with this partnership with TeenScreen,” said Michael R. Lardiere, NACHC’s Director of Health Information Technology and Sr. Advisor for Behavioral Health.
In order to alert the over 14,000 providers at community health centers nationwide to the free resources from TeenScreen and provide tools and educational opportunities about screening, NACHC and the TeenScreen National Center are sending out joint e-announcements to center providers. NACHC has also established a dedicated webpage on its site about the TeenScreen resources. Additionally, they will jointly co-host a webinar this spring for pediatric primary care providers at community health centers, featuring an expert from TeenScreen and practical advice from representatives of a community health center that has implemented screening as routine practice.
Mental health screening is recommended by 40 leading medical professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Routinely screening adolescents for depression is provided under federal health reform as a free preventive service. Adolescence offers an important period for intervention because 50 percent of all lifetime mental health disorders start by age 14, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Unfortunately, most mental illnesses are not diagnosed for 10 years after the first symptoms appear, resulting in a needlessly heavy toll on both individuals and society. But with early identification and treatment, most young people with mental illness can be effectively treated and lead productive lives.
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The TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University is a non-profit public health initiative and national policy and resource center devoted to increasing youth access to regular mental health checkups. As a pioneering force in the early identification of mental illness in teens, TeenScreen programs have been recognized as a national model and are listed in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and the Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention. The TeenScreen National Center is affiliated with the Columbia University Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. TeenScreen is being implemented by more than 1,100 primary care providers and in nearly 600 school and community-based sites in 46 states through the TeenScreen Primary Care and TeenScreen Schools and Communities programs. To learn more about TeenScreen’s free resources and policy research, please visit www.teenscreen.org.
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