Behavioral Health Policies
Behavioral health is a complex area of medicine, especially in the field of pediatrics. There are many conditions - such as ADHD, anxiety and depression - that present in many different ways and affect various areas of life including, but not limited to, academics, social interactions, home life, and extracurricular activities.
Here at TAPAC, we approach mental health in much the same way as your child’s physical health – it is imperative to address any problems that arise early and head on. While it's true that in recent years there have been a lot of improvement regarding social stigmas of mental health conditions, there sometimes can be some hesitation from both patients and families in bringing mental health concerns to the attention of their physicians.
We at TAPAC strive to be a no-judgement zone, and would like to support the families that come to us in any way we are able. Often, that means helping diagnose conditions, to help you seek resources to obtain support for those conditions, and sometimes (but not always) medication treatment for your child’s health and well-being.
As primary care providers at your child’s Primary Care Medical Home, our physicians are trained in treating common behavioral health conditions in pediatrics. First and foremost, it is imperative to recognize that a diagnosis DOES NOT mean your child will automatically be prescribed a medication. In conjunction with our patient’s families, therapists and teachers, we determine what supports are going to be most effective and helpful for our patients. Sometimes that is means medication, but often times it does not.
HOW TO GET STARTED:
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s behavior, please consider calling our clinic to request a Behavioral Health Evaluation. You will then get a call from our Behavioral Health Care Manager (BHCM), who will ask you questions to help determine your next steps. She may suggest different community resources that may be helpful, or recommend that you complete a Behavioral Intake Packet.
Our behavioral intake packet screens for various behavioral/mental health conditions that may or may not pertain to your child. Please complete the packet in its entirety – sometimes the way children express themselves can be counter-intuitive. For example, sometimes a child with anxiety can appear to have difficulty concentrating in class because the child is consumed with worry about the test coming up later in the day. It is also possible that your child may have more than one condition that needs to be addressed, so having a comprehensive screening is helpful for all involved.
You can print off the Behavioral Intake Packet by clicking on the link above, or you can pick one up from the clinic directly after discussing with one of our health care providers.
Once the behavioral intake packet is returned to clinic, we will schedule appointment(s) for you with a provider:
- For patients with concerns for anxiety or depression, you will meet with our Behavioral Health Care Manager first, then your physician (within 2 weeks) to discuss plan of action, supports needed, and if medication is warranted
- For patients with concerns for ADHD (+/- anxiety or depression), you will meet with the physician, and she/he will determine if our Behavioral Health Care Manager could be helpful for your family
FOR A CHILD WITH A DIAGNOSIS BUT IS NOT ON MEDICATION:
We are happy to connect you with our Behavioral Health Care Manager to review resources in the area to best help your child succeed – this can range from traditional therapy options (individual and/or family counselors), other less commonly know therapy options (like equine or art/music therapy), or ABA therapy (for children with autism).
FOR A CHILD WITH A DIAGNOSIS AND MEETS CRITERIA FOR MEDICATION MANAGEMENT
Given how the many factors that affect behavioral health conditions (summer break, a tough semester, friend or family situations, etc), medication needs can change regularly. Also, for conditions such as ADHD, these medications are considered controlled substances and are very closely regulated.
Due to these factors, among others, it is standard practice to have doctor visits, or medication checks, at least every 3 months (that is, 4 times a year, as one of these visits can usually be done at the annual well visit).
At the time of medication initiation or any changes in medication, it is recommended that the patient returns to clinic within a month to review the medication effects. Prior to that, you will also be contacted by a nurse within 1-2 weeks after the medication was prescribed for an update and to make adjustments if needed before to the 1 month visit.
When starting any medication, be prepared for multiple 1 month follow up visits. With any medication, but particularly for behavioral health conditions, it is important to start low with the dosing and increase slowly. That often means frequent visits for the first few months until we are able to find a dose that supports your child adequately.
Once again, here is the link to our Behavioral Intake Packet, or you can contact the office to have one sent to you.
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