Family doctors and pediatricians are often the only source of mental health care for children, especially for kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A recent study in Pediatrics found that more than one-third of kids in the US treated for a mental health problem are seen by their primary care physician—without involving a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Primary care doctors are also more likely than psychiatrists to prescribe medications for kids with ADHD— nearly 75 percent of kids treated by a pediatrician were given prescriptions vs. 60 percent of those seeing a psychiatrist. Study lead author Dr. Jeanne Van Cleave, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, says there aren’t enough child psychiatrists out there to treat everyone, so general practitioners have gotten more involved in kids’ mental health.
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