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The Alabama Child Health Improvement Alliance (ACHIA) is excited to kick off our new learning collaborative this fall. SEEN: A Teen Mental Wellness QI Collaborative will focus on the teen mental health crisis that our state is facing; recent studies have shown that up to 20% of teens have a mental health disorder, and suicide rates are rising. Pediatricians are uniquely suited to support families in the medical home. The AAP Bright Futures Guidelines recommend universal screening for depression and suicide, while the AAP Policy Statement, Mental Health Competencies for Pediatric Practice, sets expectations that practitioners develop the skills to address the screen results.

 The SEEN collaborative will help practices establish sustainable clinical processes to universally screen 12-to 18-year-olds for depression, document a follow-up plan and follow-up positive screens within 30 days. Participating practices will have the opportunity to test and implement change ideas by applying quality improvement (QI) tools such as plan-do-study-act cycles and ramps. During monthly SEEN webinars, practices will follow an “all teach, all learn” approach to rapidly overcome barriers and spread best ideas for screening and follow-up among one another other.

To further enhance practitioner mental competencies, practice members will join PATHS’ ECHO sessions to work closely with mental health experts and peers across the state. PATHS (Pediatric Access to Telemental Health Services) is a statewide program dedicated to increasing capacity for primary care providers in Alabama’s rural communities to diagnose, treat, and manage mild to moderate behavioral health conditions in children and adolescents. Learn more

 While registration for the SEEN collaborative is closed, the ACHIA website has a compendium of mental health resources. There you can find key mental health articles, practice tools and resources, as well as QI tools to improve clinic mental health processes. Learnings from these practices will also be spread to all Chapter members post-collaborative.

 Mental Health Competencies for Pediatric Practices 

  • Use foundational communication skills (Common Elements, Common Factors)

  • Incorporate mental health content and tools into health promotion

  • Provide psychosocial assessments

  • Have knowledge and skills of evidencebased psychosocial therapy and psychopharmacologic therapy

  • Skills to function as team member and comanager with mental health specialists

  • Commitment to embrace mental health practice as integral to pediatric care

Foy JM, Green CM, Earls MF , AAP COMMITTEE ONPSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH LEADERSHIP WORK GROUP. Mental Health Competencies for Pediatric Practice. Pediatrics. 2019;144(5):e20192757

 This article first appeared in the Fourth Quarter 2022 Edition of the Alabama Pediatrician Newsletter.