by Cason Benton, MD, FAAP

Teen Mental Health

Before the pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people with one in five adolescents having a mental health disorder. Moreover, Alabama youth, when compared to national samples, are more likely to have attempted suicide in the last 12 months and to have been treated medically as a result. Early data from emergency room usage and hospitalizations point to an alarming increase in adolescent mental health concerns during the pandemic.

Check out the Spring 2021 edition of the ACHIA Newsletter to find out how the April 5th Cures Act will impact teen confidentiality. The ACHIA Newsletters provide information about current quality improvement initiatives, collaborative outcomes and more. Check out our latest publication!

Increasing and improving the teen well visit: lessons from 27 Alabama practices

by Cason Benton, MD, FAAP

Alabama pediatricians know that the teen well visit supports the “healthy cognitive, physical, sexual, and psychological development [adolescents need] to successfully enter adulthood” (AAP Policy Statement, December 2019). We also know that many1--if not most--teens do not attend the well visit. 

What can we do at the practice level to increase teen well visits? 

ACHIANewsFall2020Check out the Fall 2020 edition of the ACHIA Newsletter to find out about our newest collaborative. The ACHIA Newsletters provide information about current quality improvement initiatives, collaborative outcomes and more. Check out our latest publication!

Alabama’s children achieve better outcomes when challenges in infancy and toddlerhood related to development, autism, social-emotional concerns, and maternal depression are identified and addressed early on. The Best Beginnings collaborative began in January 2020 to support primary care practices in improving their current screening processes or to introduce new screenings into their workflow. Fourteen pediatric practices and 67 pediatricians began orientation, module work and data collection using the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Quality Improvement Data Aggregator with practice interventions aligning around the key drivers of engaging QI team and practice, managing population, building community capacity, reliable screening and referral completion, and parent/guardian engagement. Practices self-selected ONE of the early screening tools (development, autism, social-emotional, or postpartum depression) to change workflow to increase the rate of recommended well-child visit screenings and referral for services for conditions impacting children ages one month to three years. 

This work, however, was interrupted in early March as the nation was hit with the COVID-19 crisis; screening and referral completion paused from March through May to focus on COVID-19 workflow changes while working on early screening, documentation and referral tracking. 

Practices continued to attend the regularly scheduled monthly practice webinars and report out on shared experiences around COVID-19 during the last three months, which included the following: