Governor Steve Bullock and Billings Clinic today announced a new partnership to increase statewide access to pediatric psychiatric care in Montana through $2.2 million in federal funding.
The new program, called the Montana Access to Pediatric Psychiatry Network (MAPP-Net), will connect pediatric psychiatrists to providers across the state caring for children and youth with mental and behavioral health issues. The new effort will include expert consultation, resources, training and support to benefit Montana’s children and youth.
“Montana’s kids are the future of our state and it’s up to us to ensure that they get the support they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives,” said Governor Bullock. “This new partnership will make sure we are taking the necessary steps to better help families before or when their child is in crisis and supporting the medical providers committed to serving our kids, especially those working in rural Montana.”
MAPP-Net will be administered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), and it will be delivered by Montana’s largest provider of psychiatric care, Billings Clinic.
“Montana needs innovative solutions that strengthen the mental health system’s ability to respond to these crucial health care needs,” said DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan. “This program will make it much more convenient for families living in rural Montana to seek care, in many cases, without having to leave the community.”
Dianna Linder, Billings Clinic Foundation Director of Grants and Program Development, said Billings Clinic is honored to provide this new service to the Montana families and medical providers. She said pediatricians, family practice physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, as well as mid-level mental and behavioral health clinicians could benefit from MAPP-Net.
“Our team is eager to begin the process of rolling this out statewide,” Linder said. “MAPP-Net will have a far-reaching impact by addressing a long list of needs that have existed for many years.”
The main purpose of MAPP-Net will be to:
- Provide resources and education to Primary Care Providers to improve capacity to diagnose and treat children and youth with mental and behavioral health issues in the primary care setting;
- Decrease burnout of primary care providers in challenging and isolated rural communities through an extensive network of professional support and development;
- Decrease escalations of children and youth in mental health crisis to specialists or emergency care that could be managed at the primary care level;
- Increase the number of pediatric patients who are connected to a psychiatrist if their health needs require this level of care; and
- Decrease overall costs to the system as care is provided at the appropriate level of specialty and acute-care setting.
Parker Powell, CEO of Glendive Medical Center, stated that primary care physicians serve the whole patient, including the patient’s mental health needs. “Primary care physicians are on the front line every day of family concerns for their children, including depression, anxiety and other serious issues such as addiction and substance use. The ability to quickly consult with a child psychiatrist will help us provide better care for the patient and family, without leaving the home community.”
MAPP-Net will serve as a statewide network of pediatric mental health teams that provide support to pediatric primary care sites through Project ECHO. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a video-based tele-mentoring platform utilized by Billings Clinic to reach clinicians across Montana on a variety of topics including pediatric and adult mental health, opioid use disorders, and adverse childhood experiences.
In the coming months, a comprehensive statewide needs assessment and gap analysis will be conducted by the University of Montana Rural Institute in order to develop a statewide peer support network. A MAPP-Net Advisory Council will be created, as well as a website, and a toll-free access line connecting primary care providers across the state to expert consultation services answered by Board-Certified Child and Adolescent psychiatrists at Billings Clinic.
The MAPP-Net Advisory Council will include:
- Two primary care providers;
- Two rural community-based mental health providers;
- One psychiatrist with a specialty in pediatric psychiatry;
- Two family members of children served by mental health providers;
- Two Tribal public health representatives; and
- One rural county educator from K-12 or Head Start.
In addition, the University of Montana Rural Institute will conduct program evaluation over the next five years before preparing a final performance report at the end of the five-year grant.