With growing recognition that between 10% and 20% of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from a psychiatric disorder that impairs daily functioning, there exists an urgent national need for more psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and advanced-practice nurses specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry and early-onset behavioral and mental health disorders. Presently, only about 5% of children and adolescents in need receive any mental health evaluation or intervention at all. Early recognition and appropriate treatment of psychiatric disorders in the developing years offers hope of reducing the overall burden of psychiatric illness across the lifespan of vulnerable individuals. In the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UConn Health, we are dedicated to providing multidisciplinary, state-of-the-art assessment and intervention for children, adolescents, and families with early-onset mental health and behavioral health disorders.
The Division has a particular focus on working with youngsters and families in the public sector in Connecticut. This is reflected in our mission statement.
Using a collaborative multidisciplinary model, the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UConn Health seeks to provide empirically-based, culturally competent, and developmentally sensitive standards-of-care, facilitate greater knowledge through clinical, applied, and translational research, and attract and educate new pediatric mental health specialty students and trainees in the understanding, treatment, and prevention of early onset mental health disorders in children and adolescents, with a particular emphasis on those in the public sector.
Indeed, the Division works closely with federally qualified health care centers and state public sector agencies to provide mental health assessment and clinical interventions to children and adolescents in juvenile detention, in state-funded residential treatment centers and hospitals, in the juvenile courts, and for youngsters in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Homecare Program provides mental health intervention across the state for adolescents recently released from detention with a goal of preventing recidivism in at-risk youths. We are very interested in the integration of pediatric primary care with child psychiatry and allied mental health professionals in the early recognition and treatment of pediatric mental health and behavioral health disorders. As such, the Division works closely with pediatricians and family and community medicine clinicians to develop innovative teaching tools with the potential to facilitate knowledge about mental health disorders in children for pediatric primary care providers.
As we look towards the future, a growing collaborative relationship with the state Department of Children and Families will facilitate new opportunities for the multi-disciplinary collaborative care of seriously emotionally disturbed children and adolescents in Connecticut. We are excited about the Division and hope you will be too. Come have a look at us.
Asima A. Zehgeer, M.D.
Program Training Director