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
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

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. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

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Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director

November 6, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com 

Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine Appointed as Medical Director of Center for Child Counseling

 

Center for Child Counseling announces the appointment of  Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D., as Medical Director. Dr. Fox-Levine joins the Palm Beach County-based nonprofit at a critical time as our nation’s youth face a mental health crisis and there is a shortage of professionals who can support their overall well-being. 

The current snapshot of Palm Beach County’s youth mental health is alarming. In 2021, 41.5% of Palm Beach County high school students reported that they felt hopeless, and 20.7% of total high school students seriously contemplated suicide (PBC Youth Behavioral Health Survey). Today, one in four children suffer a mental health or behavioral concern. 

In 2022, the entire state of Florida had a total of 493 children and adolescent psychiatrists with 43 practicing in Palm Beach County–one psychiatrist per 6,553 children under the age of 18 in the county (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry). 

According to Renée Layman, CEO of the Center, “We are thrilled to enhance our collaboration with Dr. Fox-Levine and further tackle system issues, advocate for children, and create action to improve the mental health and access to quality care for the children in our community.” 

The creation of the Medical Director position is a continuation of the partnership the Center has been building with Dr. Fox-Levine and her pediatric office, Palm Beach Pediatrics, for more than a decade. In addition to Center for Child Counseling integrating its services within Palm Beach Pediatrics to deliver an array of prevention, early intervention, and mental health services within the primary care setting, Dr. Fox-Levine will now expand early intervention and prevention methods within the community and advocate for change within the systems.

“One of my long-term goals has been to bridge the gap in the continuity of care of children with mental health issues between therapists and the county’s pediatricians. With this new role, I am excited to turn this dream into a reality and improve the mental health care for all children in Palm Beach County,” stated Dr. Fox-Levine.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Pediatric clinicians are on the front lines of caring for children and adolescents and, thus, have the greatest potential for early identification of and response to childhood trauma. Data indicate that, although pediatric providers intuitively understand the negative effects of trauma, they report a lack of knowledge, time, and resources as major barriers to providing trauma-informed care. Yet, experts believe that the complete assessment of child and adolescent behavioral, developmental, emotional, and physical health requires consideration of trauma as part of the differential diagnosis to improve diagnostic accuracy and appropriateness of care.

As Medical Director, Dr. Fox-Levine’s scope of services will include: developing a collaborative model of care between primary pediatrics and mental health in the community; developing and presenting trainings and workshops on psychopharmacology, pediatric medical conditions, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, and other topics to enhance professional knowledge; mental health diagnoses consultation and follow-up care coordination; and providing oversight of medical students to develop a formal internship experience within the Center. 

Layman and Dr. Fox-Levine agree there is no lack of resources available to children and families in Palm Beach County; the lack of communication about the resources is where the barrier exists.

“When conversations happen in the community, pediatricians are often overlooked when they are the ones who have been seeing kids and their families since the day they were born. There’s a gap between what pediatricians do and what community organizations and schools do. So, we are thrilled to have Dr. Fox-Levine to help further our work within our community by advocating for the continuity of care. She will be the voice on behalf of pediatricians and connect pediatric offices to the community resources available to their patients and families,” said Layman.

About Shannon Fox-Levine, M.D.: Dr. Fox-Levine is a pediatrician and the sole owner of Palm Beach Pediatrics, where she has worked for 20 years. She completed medical school at University of Maryland at Baltimore and trained in pediatrics at Bellevue/NYU Hospital. Her goal as a pediatrician is to give the best comprehensive medical care to children while also being an advocate for them in the community. Integrating mental health care for children into primary care is her special interest. She has worked with Center for Child Counseling for ten years promoting trauma-informed care and developed educational tools for other primary care doctors to evaluate, manage, and treat common mental health disorders in children and adolescents. She is on a school-based committee to address the increase in Baker Acts during the pandemic. She also has an interest in the business of medicine and enjoys managing the practice. She has been an advocate for pediatricians to improve payment for services in Florida as the past chair of the Florida Pediatric council, most notably negotiating a grant from a major health plan to subsidize consultation hours for Patient Centered Medical Home recognition for independently owned pediatric practices.  She currently serves on the AAP Payer Advocacy and Advisory Committee to improve payment to pediatricians to decrease the financial barrier to access to high quality care for all children. She was the President of the Palm Beach Pediatric Society for ten years, organizing CME for peers in the community. One of her most proud achievements is advocating for child safety by being one of six named pediatricians in the “Docs vs. Glocks” lawsuit against the State of Florida which found in the doctors’ favor in Federal Appellate Court.  With COVID-19, she was an active participant in the state chapter and local school board discussions about returning children to school safely.  She has been married for 22 years with two sons, 21 and 18.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and exercising. 

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. www.centerforchildcounseling.org Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

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Integrating Mental Health into Primary Pediatric Care

NEWS RELEASE

October 11, 2021
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel
cara@yourmissionmarketing.com

 Integrating Mental Health into Primary Pediatric Care
Partnership between Center for Child Counseling and Palm Beach Pediatrics addresses the whole child to serve as best practice model of care

Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) in collaboration with Palm Beach Pediatrics (PBP) announce their partnership of integrating mental health care into primary pediatric care which began Monday, October 4, 2021. 

An estimated one in five children will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. Of those children diagnosed with mental health disorders, 75 percent of children are currently seen in primary care settings, demonstrating the growing role primary care settings have in addressing mental health issues. At the same time, it is estimated that 75-80 percent of children in need of mental health services do not receive them.

Research has shown that unaddressed mental health problems among children can lead to lower educational achievement, greater involvement with the criminal justice system, and poor health and social outcomes overall. 

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reported a 31% increase in the proportion of mental health–related emergency department visits for youth ages 12–17 years during 2020 as compared to 2019. The uncertainty, anxiety, isolation, and economic insecurity from the COVID-19 pandemic are traumatic experiences that, if not addressed, can cause long-term health consequences. Youth anxiety, depression, and suicide rates were at an all-time high before the pandemic. Social isolation, fear, and stress have amplified these issues and are impacting children’s and teen’s mental health.

The pandemic is adding a huge increase in the need for pediatric mental health services. There are critical shortages in health professionals to meet the current and increasing demand for services. 

“Directly supporting trauma-informed and responsive approaches across systems that serve children and families, particularly pediatric primary care, can and will mitigate the negative impacts of overwhelming stress and help them thrive now and beyond the pandemic,” stated Renée Layman, chief executive officer of Center for Child Counseling.

For children and adolescents, many of the consequences of the pandemic will not be immediately visible, but they could be lifelong without immediate action to support their mental health and well-being. 

According to the AAP: “Pediatric clinicians are on the front lines of caring for children and adolescents and, thus, have the greatest potential for early identification of and response to childhood trauma. Data indicate that, although pediatric providers intuitively understand the negative effects of trauma, they report a lack of knowledge, time, and resources as major barriers to providing trauma-informed care. Yet, experts believe that the complete assessment of child and adolescent behavioral, developmental, emotional, and physical health requires consideration of trauma as part of the differential diagnosis to improve diagnostic accuracy and appropriateness of care.

Through this partnership, Center for Child Counseling, a local nonprofit, is embedding its services within Palm Beach Pediatrics to deliver an array of prevention, early intervention, and mental health services within the primary care setting. 

Over the past twenty-two years, Center for Child Counseling has used an integration model for services, locating CFCC staff within childcare centers, schools, and organizations serving children. This approach will now be used to fully integrate into the primary pediatric care setting for the first time. A CFCC care coordinator and therapist will be embedded at PBP, working seamlessly as a part of the PBP team to provide mental health services, consultation, crisis intervention, referral and triage, education, and resources for patients, families, and staff. 

Research shows that this holistic approach supports overall wellness, including short and long-term health outcomes.

According to Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine of Palm Beach Pediatrics, “This collaboration will promote a best practice model of care that addresses the whole child, supporting social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development to ensure that children, adolescents, and families receive immediate access to mental health services, education, and resources.”

This pediatric integration model and CFCC services to those who are not insured or under-insured are made possible thanks to grant funding through local funders such as Palm Beach Community Services, Quantum Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Department, and Health Care District of Palm Beach County. 

About Center for Child Counseling
Since 1999, Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County. 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. 

For more information, visit centerforchildcounseling.org. Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

About Palm Beach Pediatrics
Palm Beach Pediatrics is one of the largest providers of primary pediatric care in Palm Beach County. With three locations spread throughout Palm Beach County (Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, and Boynton Beach), they served 16,000 patients in 2020 and currently have 19,300 active patients. Palm Beach Pediatrics is committed to meeting the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the children and young adults of Palm Beach County by providing the highest quality of care with compassion and honesty. 

For more information, visit pbpediatrics.com

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