Generous donors, city and county fund child psychiatry fellowship at KU School of Medicine-Wichita
New fellowship program to address critical shortage of child psychiatrists in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. — Leaders at KU School of Medicine-Wichita are expressing their gratitude for those who are making a fellowship program in child and adolescent psychiatry possible. Rachel Brown, MBBS, MPhil, professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, says funds received to date will provide the seed money to start the program and support it for the first few years, though more fundraising is needed.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Patterson Family Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation and the foresight of leaders at both the city and county level, we have more than half the funds needed to begin the program and recruit our first fellows,” said Brown.
Support for the new Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program has also come from Wichita businesses and members of the community.
“This is truly a communitywide effort,” said Brown. “That’s a good thing because it will take all of us to address this community need.”
Having child psychiatrists available to serve Wichita and rural areas across the state of Kansas will address a dire situation. One in five young people in Kansas meets criteria for a mental health diagnosis and more than 35,000 are severely impaired as a result.1 Based on demand, Kansas could use more than 400 child psychiatrists; there are currently 60, working primarily in the northeast part of the state.2
“The expansion of mental health services for all, but especially for our young people, is critical,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple. “Our young people are recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, and we are experiencing a rise in youth violence in our community. This program will help serve our entire region and help provide mental health resources to those who need it most.”
Pete Meitzner, chair of the Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners, offered his thoughts as well. “Mental health in our region, including the significant impact on our young people, has been a focus,” said Meitzner. “We are proud to be part of moving toward a solution. The money we’re investing now will pay off tenfold in the future with early intervention and preventive mental health care.”
A crucial step in the development of the fellowship training program was to receive accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the accrediting body for graduate medical education programs. After a comprehensive review of KU’s application detailing the fellowship program’s curriculum and clinical teaching plan, ACGME granted accreditation to the fellowship program, allowing for the recruitment of the inaugural class of fellows to begin early this spring with the program officially starting in July.
“It’s so gratifying to know our community sees the value in having doctors specifically trained in child and adolescent psychiatry and are willing to fund it,” said Brown. “Addressing mental health during these formative years is critically important. Studies show 50% of adult mental illness starts before age 14 and 75% starts before age 24. If we can diagnose and treat these disorders early, it could have a significant, positive impact on their adult lives, the lives of their families and their communities.”
Cassie Karlsson, M.D., associate professor, will direct the fellowship program, a role she previously filled at Indiana University, before being recruited to join the medical faculty in the KU Wichita Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
“I know firsthand what it takes to develop and run a successful child and adolescent psychiatry program,” said Karlsson. “I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Brown and others from the Wichita medical community to create a program that will address the current shortage of trained child psychiatrists in the area.”
1 O’Connell, ME., Boat, T., & Warner, KE. (2009). Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. National Research Council. Institute of Medicine. Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Washington (DC): National Academies Press. Retrieved from Summary - Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
2 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Retrieved from aacap.org/aacap/Advocacy/Federal_and_State_Initiatives/Workforce_Maps/Home.aspx
Fellows entering the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program at KU School of Medicine-Wichita are medical doctors who have completed a general psychiatric residency. The fellowship consists of two additional years of intensive training dedicated specifically to learning how to meet various psychiatric needs of children and adolescents.
- Evaluate and treat youth with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, autism spectrum disorders and many other diagnoses.
- Decrease the wait to treatment after onset of symptoms.
- Limit the distance many families must travel to access care.
- Serve children and adolescents who would otherwise not receive treatment.
- Provide more effective interventions for psychiatric disorders impacting other systems of care, such as juvenile justice, education and child welfare.
- Help stop the long-term outcomes and associated costs of untreated disorders that impact adult functioning, including school and college dropout, adult mental illness, unemployment and incarceration.
- Work to support and enhance the knowledge and skills of other professionals, including those in primary and specialty medical care, schools and other community services.