Rutgers University rolls out telemedicine for kids' mental health

Piscataway, N.J.-based Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and Newark, N.J.-based Rutgers New Jersey Medical School launched a telemedicine program to help pediatricians identify mental illness in children, the university announced Jan. 3.

Funding for the program is provided by a $555,555 grant from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. Under the program, behavioral health providers at Rutgers, such as psychiatrists, alcohol and drug counselors and clinical social workers, will collaborate with pediatricians in New Jersey's Essex County to support early detection of mental health disorders.

Pediatricians will be able to call a central hotline to consult with UBHC staff on behavioral health screenings and assessments. Should a pediatrician flag a patient for a more in-depth psychiatric evaluation, UBHC staff will contact the family within 24 hours to schedule an evaluation, the results of which will be shared with the referring pediatrician.

"Early treatment is essential in preventing disorders from becoming more chronic and debilitating," said Evelyn Orozco, PhD, director of the telemedicine program. "If we can increase pediatricians' capacity to identify and treat their patients' emotional and behavioral challenges, it would fill a need for many families who are not getting services."

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