KU Wichita Pediatrics residency program receives $2.5M grant to focus on mental health, substance use in Kansas
The grant was one of 24 awarded to residency programs in the U.S.
The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Pediatric Residency Program has been awarded a grant of $2.5 million from the Department of Health and Human Services to innovate and improve the way pediatricians are trained to address mental health.
“With the shortage of pediatric mental health experts in Kansas and the increased number of youth struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental illness, primary care physicians and clinicians are called upon more and more to diagnose and treat these diseases, but they need additional training,” said Kari Harris, M.D., associate professor in pediatrics at KU School of Medicine-Wichita and co-project director of Addressing Youth Health and behavioral Health Illness with Melissa Jefferson, M.D., program director for pediatric graduate medical education.
“Many teens are turning to substance use to try to cope with negative feelings,” Harris said. “This is a concerning and dangerous trend.”
The number of drug-related pediatric deaths in 2020 increased, with over a 1,000% increase in deaths related to fentanyl (Kansas State Child Death Review Board, 2022).
“The grant will lead to innovations in our resident curriculum,” said Jefferson, “which will eventually result in an impact on the mental health of Kansas' children and adolescents as these residents complete their training and begin their practice.”
Addressing Youth Mental and behavioral Health Illness in primary care is a program to train pediatric primary care resident physicians to screen, identify, diagnose, treat and prevent mental illness in youth and young adults. While delivering training, AYM HI will also improve primary care education in trauma-informed care, substance use disorders and the effects of violence.
Faculty and preceptors, as well as advanced practitioners, working alongside resident physicians will also benefit from the program through educational opportunities and resources. KU Wichita Pediatrics is a proven innovative leader in mental health education for primary care physicians and has a strong partnership with the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at KU School of Medicine-Wichita. These departments will join other key players to achieve the AYM HI goal of enhancing the knowledge and skills of primary care physicians.