The National Alliance on Mental Illness-New Hampshire defines psychosocial as “an individual’s psychological development in and interaction with their social environment.” Psychosocial treatment is a broad term that has been used to refer to therapy services, case management, psychoeducation, skill acquisition, and prevention services. Services may be delivered to an individual, family, or group.

Scope in Pediatrics

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 5 children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. However, only about 20% receive care from a specialized mental health care provider 
  • There is racial inequity in services with Black and Hispanic children receiving significantly fewer services (50%) than White children, despite similarity in mental health concerns.   
  • The majority of mental health problems are part of co-occurring disorders; behavior problems, depression, and anxiety are the most common challenges. 
  • Nearly 50% of families do not discuss psychosocial issues with their pediatricians. 

Teaching Points

  • Because of the high rates of concerns, address psychosocial issues with families at each visit to assure a comprehensive check-up. 
  • Use screening tools as well as clinical discussion to determine need for psychosocial treatment referral. As trauma is common in children, include a screen for trauma/trauma symptoms. 
  • If problems are interfering with daily functioning, consider making a referral for psychosocial treatment before considering medication.  
  • Learn about common reactions in children and adolescents to stress as these often resemble mental health disorders. 
  • Identify providers in your area who can provide evidence-based psychosocial treatments to families and develop a working relationship to allow for smooth referral process.  
  • Discuss how COVID-19 is impacting children and families, particularly behaviors; offer resources and recommendations for overall coping. 


For Families

AAP Resources for Families on

Adjusting to Divorce 
Everybody Gets Mad: Helping Your Child Cope with Conflict. 
Helping Children Handle Stress 
How Children Understand Death & What You Should Say 
How to Talk to Your Children about Divorce 

Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

Discussing Coronavirus With Your Children

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: 

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with COVID-19 (translated in Spanish and Mandarin) 
Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents amidst COVID-19 outbreak 

National Hotlines 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Chat Available. 
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or Text TalkWithUs to 66746 
Crisis Textline, Text TALK to 741741 
7Cups:; Free, anonymous, and confidential online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists, & counselors 

Child Mind Institute

Supporting Families During COVID-19

Additional Information


For COVID related questions, please email
For Mental Health related questions, please email
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Special Acknowledgment

The AAP gratefully acknowledges support for the Pediatric Mental Health Minute in the form of an educational grant from SOBI.