Accessible Help for Healthier Children in West Texas
TTUHSC’s new CPAN team means more resources for regional providers
Within the past few months, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) became one of the state’s regional hubs for the Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN) initiative.
An initiative brought about by the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC), this exciting and beneficial program is funded by the Texas Legislature in order to equip children and adolescents across the state with the best possible care. As one of only 12 regional hubs, TTUHSC’s involvement allows new and promising opportunities for West Texas health care providers and their patients.
JoAnn Rey, one of the expert clinicians within TTUHSC’s CPAN team, was able to provide insight about TTUHSC’s involvement in this program and detail what that means for the future of young people across the region.
What is CPAN?
Put simply, CPAN is a free network of centers where Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) like Rey, along with other mental health professionals, can offer assistance to regional primary care providers (PCPs) such as pediatricians and family medicine providers.
During well-visit appointments and other appointments, PCPs might conduct screenings for mental health challenges and risk factors. While these screenings can account for the diverse ways in which mental health challenges can manifest, providers might need the help of expert resources in order to discern the appropriate follow-up care.
“It gives PCPs access to a mental health professional as well as a child/adolescent psychiatrist for consultations regarding assessment, diagnosis or medication management,” said Rey. “CPAN also helps facilitate referrals to reliable mental health providers in the community.”
The access that CPAN provides is more than just consultations to help individual cases. The assistance provided gives PCPs tools to help them learn more about mental health challenges their patients might face.
“CPAN takes a peer learning approach to assist PCPs in the assessment and ongoing management of a variety of mental health disorders with real time consultation,” Rey said. “It also offers training opportunities for PCPs to improve the care of children and adolescents with behavioral health needs.”
Care Close to Home
As one of three LPCs within the TTUHSC hub, Rey receives consult calls and speaks with providers directly when they call the CPAN line.
“My role as a clinician is to speak with PCPs to determine whether a PCP only requires my clinical assistance and/or to provide referral information when needed,” explained Rey. “If the call is more complex and requires a consultation with a child psychiatrist, I gather the intake information for the psychiatrist and then forward the call to the specialist.”
While CPAN is great for the state as a whole, having a regional hub in West Texas provides particular growth and hope for the future of local providers–which, in turn, helps children and teens in our area get the best possible care.
According to Rey, the regional hub offers opportunities to network and collaborate with PCPs within the community in order to better serve our young population–from simple mental health issues to complex situations. She also explained that the regional hub can supply both direct help and educational opportunities.
“PCPs can assist their clients by utilizing the CPAN line to request resources or speak directly with a psychiatrist within 30 minutes of their call,” said Rey. “PCPs are also provided the opportunity to attend professional mental health presentations conducted by TTUHSC psychiatrists.”
Why it Matters
“There is a continued state-wide and national shortage of child psychiatrists,” said Rey, “so children are more likely to see a Primary Care Provider for mental health concerns.”
Rey pointed out that one fourth of the pediatric cases seen by providers involve mental health concerns. By offering access to a consultation with a child/adolescent psychiatrist within 30 minutes, CPAN allows collaboration that is clearly crucial for the health of West Texas youth.
In the Surgeon General’s youth mental health advisory released late last year, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., addressed the importance of ensuring high-quality mental health care for today’s youth, which requires collaboration between many different experts and groups.
“We must reimagine how health care organizations and health professionals prevent, identify, and address mental health challenges,” Murthy stated in the advisory. Fortunately, programs like CPAN offer new, innovative ways to do just that.
“TTUHSC specialists can work together with PCPs to better serve the youth in our community,” said Rey.
CPAN services are provided Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm. CPAN is not a crisis intervention program. For more information about TTUHSC’s regional CPAN hub, visit their webpage.
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