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Texas universities launch psychiatry network to provide on-demand support for providers working with children with mental health issues

The Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN) – a collaboration of all 13 of the state’s public health-related institutions – is now available to support primary care providers working with children and adolescents with mental health issues.

After a simple enrollment process, Texas primary care providers can call the toll-free CPAN number (888-901-CPAN) to be connected with a psychiatric consultant within 30 minutes. Providers will be matched with a specialist at one of the participating health institutions in their region.

“Fifty percent of all mental health conditions manifest by age 14,” said Dr. David Lakey, vice chancellor for health affairs and chief medical officer at The University of Texas System. “The sooner we can help primary care providers recognize and treat mental health challenges, the healthier our children and adolescents with these challenges will be.”

CPAN is an initiative of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC), which includes key state agencies and statewide nonprofits in addition to all of the state-funded health-related institutions of higher education in Texas.

The TCMHCC was created in 2019 by the 86th Texas Legislature, which allocated $99 million to improve mental health and the mental health care system for children and adolescents. The UT System is the administrative support entity for TCMHCC, with Dr. Lakey serving as presiding officer

In addition to CPAN, the TCMHCC is working to provide telemedicine support to schools, expand the behavioral workforce in Texas and fund research projects.

“This is about supporting our most vulnerable Texans at their most vulnerable moments,” said Sen. Jane Nelson, who championed the legislation to fund the TCMHCC. “It’s a big leap forward for the state in its care for children and adolescents with mental health needs.”

“This is an extraordinary collaboration between the state of Texas and its publicly-supported academic health institutions,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “It is testament both to the urgency of the need and the commitment of the state and its institutions of higher education.”

The CPAN network includes the following components:

  • A statewide organization that will respond to calls from primary care providers within five minutes and, if immediate assistance is needed, will connect the provider with a child and adolescent specialist within 30 minutes.
  • A statewide data management system that will track calls and responses to measure need, evaluate responsiveness and improve services and outcomes.
  • Educational content for primary care providers, developed by CPAN members, to assist in assessing and treating children and adolescents with behavioral and mental health needs.

“Primary care providers are the front line of help when it comes to working with children and teens who have behavioral health needs,” said Dr. Laurel Williams, medical director of the Centralized Operations Support Hub (COSH) at the Baylor College of Medicine, which is overseeing the logistics and data collection of the CPAN initiative. “We’re here to help those providers, whether that’s answering questions about medications or diagnoses, providing referrals to specialists, or providing materials and training so that we’re not needed the next time.”

To learn more, visit the TCMHCC website.

About The University of Texas System

For more than 130 years, The University of Texas System has been committed to improving the lives of Texans and people all over the world through education, research and health care. With 14 institutions, an enrollment of nearly 240,000 students and an operating budget of $21.1 billion (FY 2020), the UT System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. UT institutions produce more than 60,000 graduates annually and award more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and more than half of its health professional degrees. Collectively, UT-owned and affiliated hospitals and clinics accounted for more than 9.2 million outpatient visits and 1.8 million hospital days last year. Across UT institutions, research and development expenditures total $3.1 billion – the highest in Texas and second highest in the nation among public higher education systems – and the UT System is regularly ranked among the top 10 most innovative universities in the world. The UT System also is one of the largest employers in Texas, with more than 21,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and more than 85,000 health care professionals, researchers and support staff.

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