WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) — A grant awarded to KU School of Medicine in Wichita should make a difference in the ongoing effort to teach pediatric residents the skills needed to address physical, as well as mental and behavioral health.
Wholeness of health is a focal point for pediatricians at KU School of Medicine, its leaders say.
“They see the need. They see in probably about 80 percent of the encounters they have with children and adolescents, that there is a behavioral or mental health issue that needs to be addressed and they need to be equipped to handle it,” KU School of Medicine-Wichita Program Director pediatrician Melissa Jefferson, MD said.
The program received a $2.5 million grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Jefferson is one of the physicians on a project where KU School of Medicine is looking to innovate its curriculum to better meet the needs associated with mental health.
“This nation’s children are experiencing a mental health crisis, exacerbated by COVID. And we also know that Kansas is really short on resources in terms of meeting the needs of our state’s children for mental and behavioral health.
Dr. Jefferson said there is a lot of overlap between physical and mental health, so training will cover looking for signs of mental health conditions, especially in their early stages, and providing resources for treatment.
“To do this, our residents have a strong foundation in education and behavioral health,” said Dr. Jefferson.
He said the school has already begun implementing some of these changes in its program curriculum. For the classroom, this includes bringing in speakers that they previously didn’t have access to. The next big part will be the clinical rotation side, where residents spend time in healthcare settings, practicing these skills.
“Allow us to have a new 30-day rotation focused solely on mental and behavioral health in children,” said Dr. Jefferson.
The goal is to kick off the project early next year. The changes KU School of Medicine is making include partnerships with area behavioral health providers, so they are part of this training for residents.