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Provided via the generous support of the Friends of Children Fund​​

Welcome to Implementing Mental Health Priorities in Practice: Strategies to Engage Patients and Families.

Early intervention with families who are at risk for mental health issues is critical. It is currently estimated that 15% of children and adolescents have a mental health problem. Further, undiagnosed mental health concerns in a family affect the youngest of children, long before they themselves exhibit problem behaviors.

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The most effective way to address this problem is by achieving positive and effective communication with families about mental health issues. Currently, though, many families do not disclose their emotional problems to their pediatricians. For those that do, 40% do not follow recommended treatment plans. Thus, there is a clear and urgent need for improvement in how mental health issues are communicated between pediatricians and families.

Engaging families to uncover and clarify mental health needs, give effective advice, and have therapeutic encounters with angry or demoralized patients and families requires skill and practice. This resource is designed to leverage the techniques of motivational interviewing (or in the case of substance use, a brief intervention) to provide you with practical skills needed to elicit accurate mental health information and create behavior change in patients.


This resource consists of 6 videos demonstrating examples of patient/family encounters that encompass the most difficult conversation areas for the following mental health topics:

  1. Social Emotional Problems in Children Birth to 5
  2. Depression
  3. Inattention and Impulsivity
  4. Disruptive Behavior and Aggression
  5. Substance Use
  6. Self-Harm and Suicide​​

Each video provides:

  • An overview of the particular topic area
  • A demonstration of physicians using motivational interviewing (or in the case of substance use, a brief intervention), with patients and parents to break down barriers around discussing the mental health issue, in order to elicit the critical information they need to improve the patient's quality of care and drive positive patient behavioral change.
  • Appropriate follow-up steps

These videos are intended to provide a positive example of the techniques demonstrated. They may not fit every situation or the style of every provider, and may need to be adapted for particular patients' cultures, genders, or family structures.

For those unfamiliar with or in need of a refresher on motivational interviewing, the series also provides access to an instructional video on motivational interviewing produced by the PROS (Pediatric Research in Office Settings)/University of Michigan BMI2 (Obesity Prevention) Study. Throughout the demonstration portions of the topic videos, cues will appear on screen indicating the motivational interviewing or other key techniques being used at that moment.​


The Editorial Board for the series includes:

  • Rebecca Baum, MD, FAAP, Nationwide Children's Hospital
  • Cori M. Green, MD, MS, FAAP, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
  • Larry Wissow, MD, MPH, FAAP, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
  • Sebastian Kaplan, PhD, MSEd, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Advisors for substance use video:

  • Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, FAAP, Boston Children's Hospital
  • Sheryl A. Ryan, MD, FAAP, Yale-New Haven Primary Care Center Pediatrics​​

The series is hosted by:

  • Nerissa Bauer, MD, MPH, FAAP, Indiana University School of Medicine

The doctors in the demonstrations are portrayed by:

  • Gerri L. Mattson, MD, MSPH, FAAP, Wake County Health Department
    • Depression
    • Inattention and Impulsivity
  • Cynthia J. Mears, DO, FAAP, Advocate Children's Hospital
    • Substance Use
  • Alison S. Tothy, MD, FAAP, University of Chicago
    • Social Emotional Problems in Children Birth to 5
  • R.W. Watkins, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Community Care of North Carolina
    • Disruptive Behavior and Aggression
    • Self-Harm and Suicide

All patients and parents in the demonstrations are portrayed by actors.

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