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Children's National Health System Hosts Second Mental Health Summit

National pediatric leaders convened to overcome challenges and tackle the rising tide of childhood mental illness

Washington, DC— Children’s hospital executives, pediatric mental health and primary care practitioners, community leaders, and journalists from across the nation joined together on Wednesday at the Children’s Mental Health Summit to examine new opportunities to improve care and access for kids. At this second national Summit organized by Children’s National Health System, leaders participated in action-focused discussions about the negative impact of childhood stressors on development and behavioral health and the best approaches to mitigate these effects. 

Led by Kurt Newman, MD, President and CEO of Children’s National, the program included both moderated panels and roundtable discussions where participants shared their experiences, best practices, and made recommendations to improve treatment, inform policy, and optimize access to mental health care services for children.

As the largest provider of pediatric care in the District of Columbia, Children’s National is a leading advocate for children’s mental and behavioral health needs, committed to increasing attention and action on this critical health issue.

“This Summit brought about much-needed conversation and partnership. To reduce the effects that stressors like violence and neglect can have on a child’s mental health, we need to all come together and work to change our system,” Dr. Newman said. “Despite the progress we have made in care delivery, the demand for services is constantly increasing. We are beginning to focus efforts on upstream approaches—from novel technology applications to community initiatives that advance early identification and treatment.”

As part of the event, six children’s hospital executives participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Mark Wietecha, President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association, about progress made and challenges remaining for prioritizing children’s mental health support.

 “Sharing best practices as children’s hospital leaders has enabled us to think more strategically about how we address childhood mental health as a community issue and also as a local, national, and international issue,” said Paramjit Joshi, MD, Chief of the Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s National. Dr. Joshi played an integral role in organizing the Summit and steering conversations to topics of the greatest impact.

Other health leaders who participated in the panels and roundtable discussions included Steve Allen, MD, CEO, Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Thomas Chapman, MPH, EdD, President and CEO, HSC Health System; Steven Czinn, MD, Chief of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical Center; Nathan Fox, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Chair, Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland; Rand O’Donnell, President and CEO, Children’s Mercy Kansas City; Roger Packer, MD, Senior Vice President for the Center of Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, Children’s National; and Peggy Troy, CEO, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The closing session featured children’s hospital CEOs and pediatric behavioral health leaders who defined several key takeaways and actions from the Summit including:

  1. Sharing best practices in care delivery across pediatric hospitals, health systems, and other systems of care nationwide
  2. Educating communities on how to view mental health the way we view health in general: as something that affects all people—not just those who are sick
  3. Partnering with community organizations, associations, and schools to expand the pool of resources available for children in need of mental health care and to intervene earlier in a child’s development
  4. Taking time to understand the different cultural backgrounds of patients and the role culture plays in how families view mental health
  5. Educating and partnering with local and federal policymakers to help them understand that pediatric mental health affects the future of America and needs more research funding

Other topics discussed throughout the day include:

  • Partnering with media to educate consumers and communities about children’s mental health
  • Mental health support for youth in the juvenile justice system
  • Early identification and intervention of the child at highest risk for neurobehavioral difficulties
  • Computer and other technology applications for cognitive rehabilitation and other treatments
  • Empowering primary care physicians to conduct front line mental health screens, increasing early identification
  • Regional and federal policy actions aimed at increasing access to mental health services
  • Lessons and best practices in providing pediatric mental health services in a risk-based healthcare model
  • Delivering school-based mental health services

For more information on the Summit or to learn more about pediatric mental health, contact Children’s National at 202-476-4500.

Contact: Lauren Lytle at 202-476-4500

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