Nurse Practitioners: Integrating Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care


      There is increasing recognition of the critical need for pediatric primary care providers to attend to the developmental, behavioral, and mental health needs of children and adolescents in their practices. Children and families have difficulty accessing psychiatric care because of scarce psychiatric specialists, stigma associated with referrals, and service fragmentation. The use of pediatric and family nurse practitioners with expertise in developmental, behavioral, and mental health care to provide this care within the pediatric health care home is a solution to address the growing need for integration of accessible, quality mental health services in primary care.


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      Susan N Van Cleve, DNP, RN, CPNP, PMHS, is an associate professor in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, PA


      Elizabeth Hawkins-Walsh, PhD, RN, CPNP, PMHS, is the assistant dean for master’s programs & outreach, director of pediatric nurse practitioner programs, and a clinical associate professor in the School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.


      Sheree Shafer, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, PMHS, is a family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist at the Children’s Community Pediatrics of Armstrong in Kittanning, PA.