The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation in Newton, Massachusetts, has announced the launch of a $10 million initiative to improve pediatric mental health in the greater Boston area.
TEAM UP (Transforming and Expanding Access to Mental Health in Urban Pediatrics) for Children, as the initiative is called, will address the need for integration between primary and behavioral health care for children by awarding grants over a four-year period to three community health centers in the area: the Dimock Center in Roxbury, the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, and the Lowell Community Health Center. With the funding, a total of nine behavioral health providers and eight pediatric community health workers will be added to the staffs of the three health centers, while sixty clinical staff will receive enhanced training in screening for and the prevention and treatment of mild to moderate mental illnesses and behavioral disorders, including anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Boston Medical Center will lead the implementation of the project and will provide clinical consultation, training, and care for the most acutely ill patients. In addition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $500,000 to BMC to supplement evaluation funding for the project provided by the Smith Family Foundation.
According to the foundation, untreated childhood mental illness is a major public health concern, yet four out of five American children who are struggling with such issues do not receive adequate care.
"TEAM UP for Children aims to change the lives of at-risk children and families in ways that are real and measurable," said Smith Family Foundation chair Richard Smith. "What we learn from this initiative is intended to provide a detailed roadmap for providers, policy makers, and payers how to optimize scarce health resources for the benefit of children and our society."