Building mental health care into the work of pediatricians

Collab Hero pic

The University of Minnesota wants to prepare pediatricians to treat as many mental health concerns as they can, and to help achieve this goal they’ve developed an innovative program called Collaborative Office Rounds.

Shoap headshotEmily Borman-Shoap, M.D., director of the U’s pediatrics residency program, knows that the stakes are high. That’s why three years ago, she helped launch a program aimed at empowering pediatricians to become the first stop for care for children experiencing mental health issues. 

The program, called Collaborative Office Rounds, enables pediatrics residents to meet with mental health professionals on a monthly basis to discuss cases they’ve seen, get advice on different treatment plans, learn about community resources, and more. 

“General pediatricians don’t get to rub elbows with their mental health colleagues very often, so it’s a chance to demystify what the psychiatrist or psychologist does when pediatricians send patients to them and what the right steps are for referrals,” says Borman-Shoap. 

Becoming the first stop for support

More than 40 percent of visits to a pediatrician involve some type of behavioral component. 

Sometimes this includes minor issues such as temper tantrums or nervousness about school, but a growing number of young people are also dealing with more serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD, says Borman-Shoap. 

While most patients have the strongest relationship with their pediatrician, pediatricians may not feel comfortable treating depression or anxiety and will instead over-refer patients to mental health practitioners, putting further strain on a specialty that’s already stretched thin. 

The goal of Collaborative Office Rounds is to prepare pediatricians to take care of as many mental health concerns as they can. 

“Making sure primary care pediatricians are well equipped to help these children is very important,” says Borman-Shoap. “We're trying to get our graduates ready to be that first source of support for any kind of health concern, whether it’s mental or physical.”

The impact of Masonic support

Masonic support has played a key role in the success of Collaborative Grand Rounds by supporting the infrastructure and staff needed to make the monthly conferences possible. And ultimately, this has enabled the program to significantly increase its reach as it provides new pediatricians with the confidence and tools to help young people thrive. 

"We'd like to get to a point where all pediatricians who graduate from our program and other programs can recognize and diagnose common behavioral and mental health concerns and initiate the first next steps,” says Borman-Shoap. “Masonic support is playing a meaningful role in helping us achieve this goal.” 

Learn more about Collaborative Office Rounds in this MPR story and this recent story published by the American Board of Pediatrics.