Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Programs, sometimes referred to as Child Psychiatry Access Programs (CPAPs), are collaborative programs that provide timely training and support to pediatric primary care clinicians (PCCs) and other clinicians related to detection, assessment, treatment and referral of behavioral health conditions within their practice. This support is provided as part of a peer-to-peer, telehealth-based consultation model – PCCs can connect with off-site child/adolescent behavioral health professionals by phone, video call or email/web-based consultation.
- Note: The term “behavioral health” is used throughout this content to encompass mental health and substance use conditions. The terms “pediatric primary care clinicians”, “primary care clinicians” and “clinicians” are used to refer to pediatric clinicians who provide primary care to children. This can include pediatricians, family physicians and nurse practitioners.
The primary goal of these programs is to increase access to pediatric behavioral health services, especially at the primary care level. PMHCA programs provide training, technical assistance, teleconsultation and care coordination support services to PCCs to increase their comfort and enhance their skills in managing mild to moderate behavioral health conditions within the medical home. These programs also provide referral advice for more complex conditions, guidance regarding clinical management and help with finding resources.
Through training and support to pediatric PCCs, PMHCA programs can increase access to behavioral health care within the medical home, helping to reduce disparities and inequities in child and adolescent behavioral health care.
PMHCA programs provide a full array of services to all providers and practices located either within a specific geographic region of the state, or statewide, and may require registration or enrollment to participate. If programs do provide care directly to patients until they can see behavioral health professionals in their communities, the services are usually available to all patients within a practice, regardless of insurance coverage.
Click here for more information about Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded PMHCA programs, including project abstracts and teleconsultation phone lines.
Visit the National Network of Child Psychiatry Access Programs at nncpap.org for a list of states that currently have PMHCA programs/CPAPs, regardless of funding source.
- The National Network of Child Psychiatry Access Programs (NNCPAP) is an association of national leaders in pediatrics and child psychiatry that supports existing and emerging child psychiatry consultation programs and works toward national progress on the integration of behavioral health within primary care. NNCPAP provides resources to child psychiatry consultation programs across the country and facilitates relationships and communication among behavioral health and child psychiatry access programs that are located in the primary care setting.
Some states have “partial” programs, which can be defined as a state in which some, but not all, of the counties in the state or territory can use the program.
See below for frequently asked questions about PMHCA programs:
“The involvement of our state AAP Chapter in our Virginia Mental Health Care Access Program (VMAP) has been essential to the transformation of our pediatric mental healthcare delivery system. With increasing numbers of children and adolescents presenting with mental health conditions, programs like VMAP support pediatricians and pediatric clinicians so that we can care for our patients sooner and with more confidence.”
Sandy L. Chung, MD, FAAP
Medical Director, VMAP
Past President, Virginia AAP
- AAP Policy Statement: Mental Health Competencies for Pediatric Practice
- AAP Resource: Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PHMCA) Programs – New Federal Funding and Opportunities for State Advocacy
- Children’s Mental Health Chapter Action Kit
- Mental Health Initiatives at AAP
- National Network of Child Psychiatry Access Programs
- Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program
- Telehealth Tips and Resources from AAP
This resource is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,000,000 with no percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the US Government.
American Academy of Pediatrics