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Laine Young-Walker, MD

Bridging the Gap in Psychiatric Care for Children

MU School of Medicine program expands access in Boone County

A new program offered by the University of Missouri School of Medicine is providing in-school psychiatric care for children experiencing emotional or behavioral crises. The initiative, the MU Bridge Program: School-Based Psychiatry, launched March 16 in 11 Boone County public schools.

“The MU Bridge Program makes psychiatric treatment more accessible and provides timely appointments within the educational environment,” said Laine Young-Walker, M.D., chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the MU School of Medicine. “Bridge brings our specialists into schools to help address emotional or behavioral crises so that these children get back on track quickly.”

The program is staffed by MU child and adolescent psychiatrists and two nurse managers who work with school counselors and the families of children needing care. Children in the program receive an initial psychiatric evaluation with a child psychiatrist, and two or three follow-up appointments at their schools, at no cost to the child’s family.

After the initial evaluation, if a child does not need medication, the student is referred to other in-school or outpatient behavioral health services. If a child does require a prescription, staff from the program work with the family to fill that need. For children who are uninsured or underinsured, alternative reduced-cost medications are available.

For Young-Walker, one of the most important benefits of the new program is that it provides a higher level of care based on shared information.

“When a student is referred to us by a school, sometimes educators feel like they don’t know what occurs after that referral takes place,” Young Walker said. “Parents may also bring their child to one of our clinics but not provide us with the child’s in-school history. Our program will eliminate this information disconnect so that we are all working together to provide the best care possible.”

Young-Walker envisions the new program as a system of support for all children with mental health needs.

“We hope to bridge the gap often faced by children when it comes to psychiatric care,” Young-Walker said. “By providing a more immediate option in the school setting, we can work with parents, teachers and counselors, so that these children are able to return to learning, socializing and feeling better.”

For more information or if they believe a child may benefit from the program, parents and teachers can contact counselors at their children’s schools.

The MU Bridge Program is supported by funding from the Children’s Services Fund of Boone County Missouri.

Click here for a high-resolution photo of Laine Young-Walker, MD.

Posted March 31, 2015

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