BALTIMORE (July 1, 2013) – Beginning today, a program that supports the efforts of primary care providers who see children and youth to assess and manage mental health concerns in their patients will expand to serve the entire state. Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (B-HIPP) is a collaboration between the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the State Department of Education, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Salisbury University Department of Social Work.

 B-HIPP, which is supported by funding from the Departments of Health and Education, launched in January 2013 in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. The program aims to make managing child and adolescent mental health problems more routine in primary care settings, and to make it an efficient and effective gateway to specialty mental health care.

 “This program connects pediatric clinicians around the state to mental health professionals for consultation and guidance,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “This kind of innovation will improve the care of Maryland's children."

 “Early diagnosis and treatment of behavioral issues in young children is key to improved development, a primary goal of our Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery. “Our work with the Department of Health solidifies the critical link between pediatric physical and mental health care, which will benefit Maryland children for many years.”

 Assistance is offered through four main components, all of which are available to primary care providers without charge and without regard to a patient’s insurance status:

  1. Phone Consultation Service: B-HIPP provides phone consultation for primary care providers with child mental health specialists (child psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors) at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins. Consultation is available MondayFriday, 9am-5pm and all inquiries are responded to within one business day. The team is available to provide consultation in many areas of behavioral health including medication management, diagnostic issues, developmental delays, school/learning issues, autism spectrum disorders, trauma, and early childhood mental health (ages 0-5).
  2. Continuing Education: B-HIPP offers training opportunities to expand the knowledge and skill base of pediatric primary care providers in mental health.  
  3. Referral & Resource Networking: B-HIPP has developed a comprehensive database of services across the state to be able to offer primary care providers targeted referrals for their patients. In addition, they have cataloged and can provide guidance on the use of screening tools and handouts which can be disseminated to primary care providers. 
  4. Social Work Co-Location: In partnership with Salisbury University, B-HIPP places social work faculty and graduate students in pediatric primary care practices on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In fall 2013, co-location will expand to eight placements. In this mode, social work interns are available on-site to provide screening, brief intervention, referral and real-time consultation to primary care providers.

 "In our first few months we've had the pleasure of getting to know and working with some amazingly dedicated and savvy clinicians from all over the state,” said Dr. Larry Wissow, program co-director, child psychiatrist and Professor of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We have also been able to connect with other programs targeting support for children and families, and look forward to being part of an ever more coordinated system that brings together medical, mental health, and developmental services."

"We are excited about being able to extend B-HIPP's reach statewide; and to be able to support more primary care professionals in addressing the mental health needs of the children, adolescents and families they serve,” said Dr. David Pruitt, program co-director, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“During the pilot year, our MSW B-HIPP interns have had 269 contacts with families on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore. We look forward to branching into the Mid-Shore area in the fall, and doubling the number of B-HIPP interns in pediatric primary care offices from four to eight,” said Amy D. Habeger, Social Work faculty member and B-HIPP Salisbury Program Coordinator. “This program is an excellent resource for families in Maryland, and we look forward to continued expansion throughout the state of Maryland.”                   

To date, B-HIPP has enrolled over 100 primary care providers who see children and youth, and has now opened their services to all such primary care providers across the state of Maryland. Providers are encouraged to learn more about and sign up for B-HIPP by visiting www.mdbhipp.org or by contacting Program Director, Meghan Crosby Budinger, at (410) 955-8699, mcrosby@jhsph.edu.

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