Little girl smiles before going down the slide on playground

Established in March 2016, the Behavioral and Mental Health Provider Education Initiative at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta aims to educate healthcare providers on behavioral and mental health issues within the pediatric population. The initiative was created to improve the quality of care provided to patients in our community by equipping physicians with educational tools and resources.

Approximately 25 percent of our primary care providers’ patients have behavioral and mental health concerns. These concerns span all demographics and are estimated to touch the lives of more than 500,000 kids in Georgia. Studies have shown that early detection, assessment and intervention in patients who exhibit behavioral and mental health concerns can affect future outcomes.

Program features

The Behavioral Health Provider Education Initiative takes a three-pronged approach to meeting the needs of healthcare providers and their patients. The three areas of commitment are:

  1. Behavioral and mental health provider advice line: This nonemergency advice line, open Monday through Friday, is for providers seeking advice on behavioral and mental health issues affecting children and adolescents. Staffed by psychiatry specialists, providers are encouraged to leave a voicemail for our team by calling 404-785-3922 to discuss behavioral and mental health-related patient care questions. Calls will be returned within one business day between 1pm and 2pm.
  2. Project ECHO: The heart of the ECHO model is its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks, led by expert teams who use multipoint videoconferencing to conduct virtual clinics with community providers. Project ECHO allows primary care doctors, advanced practice providers, nurses and other clinicians to learn how to provide excellent behavioral health care to patients in their own communities. This program will help transform medical education and exponentially increase workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities.
  3. Symposium: Children’s offers multiple educational opportunities throughout the year on pertinent behavioral health topics. Primary care physicians and community providers are integral in developing curriculum topics. Faculty members providing the education come from multiple disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, social work, primary care, government agencies and more.

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, such as Friends and the Children’s 1998 Society, this initiative has steadily grown.

Primary Care Behavioral Health Primer Education Video Series

Access to behavioral and mental health care is falling far short of meeting the needs of Georgia’s children and teens.

Access is lacking

  • 70.9% of Georgia youth with major depressive did not receive mental health services in the past year.
  • Georgia ranks 47th in the nation for mental health access.
  • More than 40% of children in Georgia (ages 3 to 17) have trouble accessing the mental health treatment and counseling they need.

Need is high

  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14.
  • The average delay between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
  • Children with ADHD, autism or developmental delays are twice as likely to be chronically absent compared to kids without these conditions.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth (ages 6 to 17) experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • As many as 1 in 6 U.S. youth (ages 6 to 17) has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety or ADHD. 
  • In Georgia, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 9 to 17.
  • 11.4% of Georgia youth report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year.