MU School of Medicine Expands Program to Offer More Mental Health Care to Missouri’s Children

Laine Young-Walker, MD
Dr. Laine Young-Walker leads The Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry helping to bring the Missouri Child Psychiatry Access Project (MO-CPAP) program to central Missouri.

Due to a national shortage of mental health care providers, as many as 62 percent of children who experience major depression in the United States don’t receive treatment, according to Mental Health America. Leaders at the University of Missouri School of Medicine are working on a solution. They are expanding a program into central Missouri aimed at increasing children’s access to mental health care.

The program, called the Missouri Child Psychiatry Access Project (MO-CPAP), is led by the medical school’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and began in St. Louis in July 2018. More than 146 health care providers enrolled in the St. Louis program in its first year. The program provides training and support for primary care providers, thereby equipping and empowering more providers to care for children with mental health concerns. Mo-CPAP offers additional resources to help these front-line health care providers meet the mental health needs of patients with mild to moderate behavioral health issues. Primary care physicians, family physicians, pediatricians, physician assistants, and advanced practice nurses can all enroll in the project. Mo-CPAP offers these caregivers access to support services such as:

  • Telephone consults with child and adolescent psychiatrists regarding screening, diagnosis, and management of behavioral health issues
  • Linkage and referral services to connect their patients to community-based mental health care and other resources
  • Education and training in identification, assessment, and treatment of mild to moderate behavioral health issues.

“I am grateful to be leading such an innovative and exciting program,” said Laine Young-Walker, MD, chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the MU School of Medicine. “We know Missouri’s children need better access to behavioral health services. We also know from previous research that about 75 percent of children and adolescents receive behavioral health care from a primary care provider. This new program will enable those physicians to get additional training and support to better care for their patients’ mental health needs.”

MO-CPAP’s central region includes Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, and Randolph Counties. The program is funded by two state grants: $2.1 million from the Pediatric Mental Health Access Grant run by the Health Resources and Services Administration and $2.9 million from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Young-Walker received the Mortimer Goodman Award in 2018 from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) for her work implementing Mo-CPAP in St. Louis and with the Pediatric Behavioral Healthcare Task Force.