The NYS Office of Mental Health is collaborating with some of the top universities and hospitals in the state to expand access to Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children’s Health) an innovative program that helps New York's pediatric and maternal primary care providers deliver care to children and families who experience mental health concerns.
OMH is partnering with University Psychiatric Practice (UPP), which is a collaboration led by University at Buffalo’s Department of Psychiatry, and includes faculty psychiatrists from the University of Rochester, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, SUNY Upstate, Zucker School of Medicine/Northwell Health, Albany Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Pediatricians and family practice doctors are often the first place families go to seek help or information if they have concerns about their children’s emotional or behavioral health. Project TEACH connects primary care providers with psychiatrists and other behavioral healthcare experts for consultation, referrals to services and education and training on children’s social and emotional development. Our new contract with the University Psychiatric Practice will help expand the services provided through Project TEACH and help more children and families address any mental health concerns they may have.”
David L. Kaye, Professor of Psychiatry at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the Executive Director of Project TEACH, said, “The pandemic turned the shortage of mental health providers into a national crisis, and it has hit children and new mothers particularly hard. Project TEACH brings mental health treatment for these vulnerable populations to every corner of New York State by bolstering the skill sets of the health care professionals these patients already know and trust.”
Under the new contract, UPP will take several steps to help expand and strengthen Project TEACH, including:
- Expanding delivery of consultations to pediatric providers to include the following specialty areas: Infants and Children ages 0-5; Behavioral assessment and planning for autism spectrum disorders/Intellectual Developmental Disorders; Non-medication intervention for substance use disorder; LGBTQ+ Wellness and mental health concerns; Problematic sexual behavior assessment and treatment;
- Expanding the Maternal Mental Health Initiative by providing maternal health providers with access to consultation via a warmline operated forty hours per week;
- Increasing the number and type of in-person and on-line trainings available to PCPs;
- Creating toolkits on pediatric mental health and maternal mental health, both of which will be available through the Project TEACH website;
- Creating additional downloadable educational materials for parents and families that are available in seven languages.
OMH launched Project TEACH in 2010, to help pediatric primary care providers to ask questions about any of their cases involving children and adolescents. Questions can be specific to a particular patient; diagnosis and treatment for a specific mental health disorder; use of a particular medication or other treatment strategy; or general questions about topics in child psychiatry and/or behavioral health.
Project TEACH provides:
- Access to rapid consultation from child and adolescent psychiatrists and reproductive psychiatrists. All NYS pediatric PCPs and Maternal Health providers are eligible to receive telephone consultation about their patients’ mental health needs. Pediatric PCPs can also obtain direct consultation for their patients, either face–to-face with the child psychiatrist or via videoconference. Additionally, other prescribers who are providing ongoing treatment to children, such as Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, General Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, may request a second opinion through consultation.
- Access to education and training. Educational-based trainings for pediatric and maternal health providers are held regularly on-line and on a virtual platform. Pediatric PCPs may also access training on-site at their offices on a variety of topics related to children’s social and emotional development. CME credits are available to physicians who attend training.
- Access to referral and linkage services for child, adolescent and perinatal patients. Referral and linkage services are available to both pediatric PCPs and Maternal Mental Health providers to assist their patients in accessing community mental health and support services such as clinic treatment, case management, or family support.
Additionally, OMH is expanding the Maternal Mental Health Initiative (MMHI) in response to feedback from stakeholders. Maternal healthcare providers will now have increased access to consultation, training and resources. Specifically, the new contract provides the following:
- Maternal health providers can access consultation via a warmline operated forty hours per week. Maternal Health providers can now call the warmline and speak to a Reproductive Psychiatrist immediately, or within 30 minutes, or may schedule a time for consultation if they prefer.
- Increased provision of training and education. Each year, MMHI will provide a minimum of two ½- day intensive trainings per year for maternal health providers which will include a minimum of three one-hour follow-up sessions to provide case-based learning. In addition, MMHI will provide a minimum of three web-based trainings per year
- Assistance with referral and linkage to maternal mental health services in the local area as needed.
- Development of a Maternal Mental Health toolkit which will be housed on the Project TEACH website.
- Promotion of MMHI services which will include regular outreach by the Reproductive Psychiatrists to maternal health providers in their area.
- Creation of an advisory group which will include representation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as other stakeholders and mothers with lived experience.