Many Kids With Mental Health Issues See Only Pediatricians

One in three children who were diagnosed and treated for mental health conditions on an outpatient basis saw their primary-care doctors for this care, a new study reports.

Using data from a nationally representative survey, the researchers found that about 35 percent of children receiving mental health care in the past year had appointments only with their primary-care physicians compared with about 26 percent who saw only psychiatrists and 15 percent who saw only psychologists or social workers.

The findings highlight the role that primary-care providers are playing on a national level in caring for children with mental health conditions, said Dr. Jeanne Van Cleave, a pediatrician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston. She is the lead author of the study, published online today (Oct. 12) in the journal Pediatrics.