Back to Insights and Updates for ProvidersOctober 2023

BH screening for children and adolescents in the primary care setting

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With childhood and adolescent behavioral health concerns continuing to rise among health care professionals, we’d like to remind our provider partners about the importance of offering routine behavioral health screening during primary care visits.

Primary care providers are often the first line to childhood and adolescent patient care. As such, they are uniquely situated to begin the process of identifying emotional and behavioral health issues that could lead to serious mental health conditions. Given the widespread shortage of mental health professionals, behavioral health screening in the primary care setting today plays a significant role in early detection, intervention, and coordination of follow-up care when needed.

There are a variety of universal behavioral health screening tools for use by professionals to evaluate children and adolescents, including the Pediatric Symptom Checklist‐17 (PSC‐17), Patient Health Questionnaire‐9 (PHQ‐9), and CRAFFT interview. For health care professionals interested in continuing education, the American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures Series offers webinars focused on screening principles, the benefits of collaboration between medical and behavioral health care providers, and other timely topics.

In addition, we have developed Behavioral Health (BH) Screening FAQs to assist providers, including for Tufts Health Direct, Tufts Health RITogether and Tufts Health Together. These materials offer guidance on conducting screenings, communicating with patient family members, billing for services, facilitating behavioral health referrals, and more.

Whether you’re a primary care provider or behavioral health specialist, building and managing a collaborative care network for children and adolescents in need of mental health services is essential. We encourage all our provider partners to continue to expand their referral networks by regularly sharing up-to-date program and contact information along with their capacity to accept new patients. To assist with the exchange of process documentation and other information integral to the treatment of primary care/behavioral health patients, refer to Point32Health’s Coordination of Care Check List.

Audrey Kleinberg,
Director, Provider Relations & Communications

Annmarie Dadoly,
Senior Manager, Provider Communications

Joseph O’Riordan, Susan Panos, Stephen Wong,

Kristin Edmonston,
Production Coordinator

Kristina Cicelova,
Graphic Designer