For decades, the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists (CAPs) and other specialized mental health practitioners has resulted in the challenge of meeting the overwhelming mental health needs in communities all over the country. These needs include managing chronic illnesses like depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders; to providing triage and treating acute disorders, like suicidality, that rise to the level of a psychiatric emergency. The CAP shortage has shifted the burden of providing mental health care to primary care clinicians, many of whom feel ill-equipped to manage complex psychiatric illnesses during brief office appointments with little support.
If families need an appointment with a psychiatrist and are wait-listed or have an appointment schedule, but not for several months, they can let their primary care provider (PCP) know about PAL. The provider can consult with the PAL Psychiatrist over the phone to help manage medication or learn about resources in the interim. The child or adult continues to be the patient of the PCP, and both the patient and the PCP benefit from the information exchanged in the consult.