05/12/2015 08:28 am ET Updated May 13, 2016

Increase MCPAP Funding to 3.6 Million to Ensure Care for Mothers

By Michael McManus, M.D., MPH, FAAP

I write on behalf of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, representing over 1,800 pediatricians practicing across the Commonwealth. We strongly urge our state legislators to support increased funding for the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP). Through a $500,000 budget increase, we can enhance the program to bring MCPAP for Moms to full capacity statewide. MCPAP has proven to be extremely effective in enabling primary care pediatricians to care for children with mental health disorders. MCPAP for Moms builds on this model to effectively prevent, identify, and manage postpartum depression. This will have a significant impact on the health and well being of both mothers and children throughout Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP)
Since 2004, MCPAP has provided invaluable assistance to primary care pediatricians throughout the Commonwealth, who are increasingly on the front lines in diagnosing and treating child mental health disorders. MCPAP provides mental health consultation by telephone to pediatricians, office evaluations for children and families, and referrals to mental health providers when necessary to facilitate access. It serves children and families regardless of insurance. Our members in pediatric practice have found MCPAP to be an essential support for the coordination of services within the medical home. Over the years, MCPAP has saved the Commonwealth and commercial insurers from paying for unnecessary emergency room visits and has significantly improved behavioral health care. It now serves as a national model and is being replicated in other states.

MCPAP for Moms
Following a similar model, MCPAP for Moms has been developed in response to the recommendations of the Postpartum Depression Commission. The Commission has highlighted the critical importance of assisting the 10-20% of mothers who suffer from post-partum depression. MCPAP for Moms will enable pediatricians and other physicians who screen mothers for postpartum depression to have access to the behavioral health consultations and referral resources necessary to treat them. Certainly, there is no point to screening if we cannot treat. MCPAP for Moms will make the necessary services available and will help both alleviate the suffering of mothers with postpartum depression and mitigate the adverse effects of depression on their children. Like MCPAP, this program will prevent unnecessary emergency room visits for infants and unnecessary hospitalizations for parents.

Expansion of MCPAP to include mothers with postpartum depression will support the medical home for children and families, prevent inappropriate emergency room utilization, decrease hospital admissions for mental health services, and reduce the impact of maternal depression on children. The Massachusetts Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics strongly urges state legislators to support funding of this program.

Michael McManus is president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics