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.
- 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.
Addressing Family Mental Health Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Developmental, Behavioral, Psychosocial, Screening, and Assessment Forms
Evidence-based Practices Resource Center. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Mental Health Initiatives
Promoting Mental Health
National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
Related AAP Policy
Addressing Early Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Problems
Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents
Health and Mental Health Needs of Children in US Military Families
Helping Children and Families Deal With Divorce and Separation
Mental Health Competencies for Pediatric Practice
Promoting Optimal Development: Identifying Infants and Young Children With Developmental Disorders Through Developmental Surveillance and Screening
Promoting Optimal Development: Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems
Providing Psychosocial Support to Children and Families in the Aftermath of Disasters and Crises
Psychosocial Factors in Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs and Their Families
Supporting the Grieving Child and Family
Related AAP Resources
AAP Resources for Families on HealthyChildren.org
Adjusting to Divorce
Everybody Gets Mad: Helping Your Child Cope with Conflict. HealthyChildren.org
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
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 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: www.7cups.com; Free, anonymous, and confidential online text chat with trained listeners, online therapists, & counselors
Child Mind Institute
For COVID related questions, please email email@example.com.
For Mental Health related questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The AAP gratefully acknowledges support for the Pediatric Mental Health Minute in the form of an educational grant from SOBI.