Pediatric Society Reconvenes for the First Time Since COVID to Discuss How to Integrate Mental Health into Primary Care

April 25, 2024
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel

Pediatric Society Reconvenes for the First Time Since COVID to Discuss How to Integrate Mental Health into Primary Care

Palm Beach Pediatric Society joins Center for Child Counseling in leading the fight in children’s mental health. 

In partnership with the Palm Beach Pediatric Society, the Center for Child Counseling continued its Lead the Fight series to move forward its efforts addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma with the healthcare providers who are on the frontlines of seeing children and families. Part one of a three-part series, The Trauma-Informed Pediatric Practice: We Are the Boots on the Ground, took place April 17, 2024, at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. 

Led by Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine, president of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society and medical director of Center for Child Counseling, this initial part of the series focused on how pediatric medical professionals can provide pediatric mental health integration by being trauma-informed in their primary care and subspecialty offices.

“When we look at our systems–whether it’s our schools, our legal systems, our department of juvenile justice, our medical system with our pediatricians–you are often the most trusted person in a child’s life, in a family’s life,” stated Renée Layman, president and CEO of Center for Child Counseling, in her opening address to the more than 80 pediatric healthcare providers and community partners in attendance. 

Fox-Levine emphasized that as often the person a parent or family turns to when in crisis, the primary care and subspecialty pediatric providers should be armed with the tools to identify mental health risks. Since physical health and mental health cannot be separated, pediatric medical professionals are at the forefront of the youth mental health crisis. She discussed the impact of childhood trauma into adulthood: from depression, higher risk of suicide, incarceration to the risks of cancer, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases.

“We protect kids, that’s our mission, preventative care to keep them healthy, to keep them from getting those illnesses, like polio. So, we really need to think of that as we leave here tonight…setting that mission for all of us is to think of it more of those effects of trauma on children, what that looks like for that adult. And what the impact of finding those kids now through our recommended screening processes will do for those same adults in the future,” said Fox-Levine.

The presentation provided the practical strategies and toolkit of resources necessary for the healthcare providers to address children’s mental health needs–screening early and connecting children and families to the appropriate care and support offered in Palm Beach County. 

Center for Child Counseling team members–Mackenzie Halley, director of the pediatric integration program, and Jibby Ciric, senior director of strategic impact–provided an overview of adverse childhood experiences and adverse community experiences and how to create a trauma-informed community to support a child’s development and to recognize and stop childhood trauma. 

This event marked the first time in more than four years that the Palm Beach Pediatric society convened. The primary pediatric providers had the opportunity to talk to each other about the mental health crisis that all pediatricians are seeing and offer each other peer support. 

In 2015, Center for Child Counseling launched Fighting ACEs to build awareness and action to mitigate the impact of ACEs and build well-being through Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs). In conjunction with Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2017, the Center developed ‘Lead the Fight’ in 2016 to bring awareness to system leaders around fighting childhood adversity with advocacy and action. Since that time, the agency has educated tens of thousands of parents, professionals, and systems leaders. 

Partnership sponsors who are leading the fight in making these important conversations and educational series possible include: BeWellPBC, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County; Florida Association for Infant Mental Health; Hanley Foundation, Palm Beach Pediatrics, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, Mead Johnson/Enfamil, and Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley

CFCC’s Fighting ACEs initiative to build trauma-informed communities is made possible with the generous support of Quantum Foundation, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and private donors.

CFCC’s pediatric integration program is made possible thanks to the support of Quantum Foundation, The Frederick DeLuca Foundation, and Palm Beach County Community Services Department

Part 2 of the Lead the Fight 2024 series, The Superheroes Have Arrived, will take place on August 28. The event focus will be on how Palm Beach County Schools are helping students in mental health crisis with the CAPE Team and other mental health services.

Part 3, Positivity Will Give HOPE for Our Future, is scheduled for December 4, and will feature understanding the effect of Positive Childhood Experiences on countering the long-term possible effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

About Center for Child Counseling
Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc


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