HealthDay News — Children in states with statewide child psychiatric telephone consultation programs are significantly more likely to receive mental health services than children in states without such programs, according to a letter to the editor published online recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Bradley D. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, and colleagues used weighted data from the 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health to identify receipt of mental health services among children ages 5 to 17 years old. They merged the data by year and state with information about state child psychiatric telephone access programs from the National Network of Child Psychiatry Access Programs.

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The researchers found that of the 245,512 children identified, the percentage receiving mental health treatment grew from 8.4 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007, 11.1 percent in 2011, and 11.4 percent in 2016. There was growth in telephone access programs from first initiation in 2004. By 2016, 28.1 percent of children resided in states with a statewide child psychiatric telephone access program, 48.6 percent resided in states with a partial child psychiatric telephone access program (some but not all of the counties in a state could use the program), and 23.3 percent resided in a state with no such programs. The percentage of children residing in states with statewide child psychiatric telephone access programs who received mental health services (12.3 percent) was significantly higher compared with the percentage of children receiving services residing in states with partial (10.9 percent) or no child psychiatric telephone access programs (9.5 percent).

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“It is encouraging that the effect of child psychiatric telephone consultation programs, albeit modest, may help to increase access to child mental health services,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed receipt of funding from government agencies.

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