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Maximize Summer Check-Ups: Prioritizing Kids’ Mental Health During Annual Physicals

Clinically Reviewed by: Jacqueline Mitchell LMSW

Did you know that 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral health disorder, yet only 20% of these children receive the care they need? With summer here, it’s time for annual physical exams, providing pediatricians with a perfect opportunity to start conversations about mental health and wellness with families.

Many families visit their pediatrician at least once a year for wellness exams, offering a valuable moment to discuss child and adolescent mental health and educate them about available community resources, like Backpack Healthcare.

Educating Families About Adolescence

As children and adolescents grow, they experience a range of emotions and challenges. Parents often struggle to differentiate between age-appropriate developmental stages and recognizing more serious behavioral or emotional challenges. Pediatricians are a great resource to confine in to help guide these conversations, provide resources, help families understand what to expect during growth, and how to respond if they suspect their child needs additional support..

The Importance of Mental Health Screenings for Pediatric Patients

Yearly wellness exams are an excellent time to screen for mental health concerns. We recommend a biopsychosocial exam, which gathers information on the patient’s genetics, past and present mental health situations, and environment. These exams provide a comprehensive view of the person’s overall life, and open up discussion of mental health challenges and potential underlying causes.

As children enter adolescence, it’s crucial to provide them with privacy during these conversations to help them develop advocacy and communication skills with the health professionals. Screenings are essential for pediatricians to understand what is happening with a patient and how to best refer them for additional healthcare resources.

Fostering Collaboration Between Pediatricians and Mental Healthcare Providers

Families visiting pediatricians may not know where to turn for mental and behavioral health resources. It’s vital for pediatricians to direct them to appropriate care and work collaboratively with the agencies they refer to. This collaboration ensures the best care for children and their families and can reduce the burden on families by preventing them from having to repeat their story multiple times.

When and How to Make Pediatric Mental Health Referrals

When a patient or family discloses concerns about mental health, listen actively and direct them to the right resources. For instance, if a patient reveals self-harming behaviors or suicidal ideations, it’s best practice to get them a Psychological Evaluation at the nearest hospital and connect them with the appropriate resources. If the family expresses behavioral concerns, referring them to outpatient mental health treatment, such as local therapists or psychiatrists, is recommended. Reminding families that they are not alone in caring for their children’s needs helps establish trust.

How Backpack Healthcare Can Help

At Backpack Healthcare, we provide outpatient mental health treatment for individuals and families, including psychiatry options for pediatric-focused medication management. We believe in collaborative care and provide updates on the client’s treatment to ensure they have a professional support group they can rely on.

Simplified Referral Process

We have simplified our referral process to ensure healthcare providers can get children, teens, and families the help they need within five days. Pediatricians can refer patients to our telehealth mental health treatment in the following ways:

We look forward to partnering with you to bring the highest quality of care to your patients and
their families!


Pediatricians, let’s make the most of this summer season. As you see more patients for annual physical exams, take the opportunity to support their mental health by partnering with Backpack Healthcare. Refer your patients today and help us tackle the children’s mental health crisis!

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