Maine Pediatric & Behavioral Health Partnership (MPBHP) logo

NH-ME LEND is delighted to spotlight a valued leadership partner, Maine’s Title V Program, Maternal and Child Health (MCH), located within the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Disease Prevention.

The Maine CDC secured a Pediatric Mental Health Care Access grant from HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau to increase access to psychiatry and behavioral health professionals by expanding the ability of pediatric primary care providers to detect, assess, treat and refer children with mild to moderate behavioral health needs in their practices.

The funded project, Maine Pediatric & Behavioral Health Partnership (MPBHP), provides a free consultation access line where a pediatrician or family doctor is connected to a psychiatrist or pediatric mental health nurse practitioner; hosts monthly webinars on mental health topics; facilitates a monthly Pediatric Psychiatry in a Primary Care Setting ECHOÒ; and connects pediatric PCPs to resources in their community.

“If you’re a family and your child is struggling and your PCP just doesn’t know what to do—families can tell their PCP, ‘Did you know there’s a program for this?’” said Maryann Harakall, Maine’s MCH Program Director. “Providers are getting this message from us; now they can start getting it from families who can advocate for themselves.”

Maine CDC received additional funding from HRSA to expand the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access work to include emergency personnel and schools.

MCH is educating EMS professionals on children’s mental health, de-escalation and trauma-sensitive care. It’s training emergency personnel how to respond when children, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and autism, are in crisis.

NH-ME LEND trainee Ashley Mulkern (2023) had the opportunity to build her leadership skills through her work with the Pediatric Mental Health Care Access expansion into schools. Mulkern is a parent of a child with autism as well as a special education teacher and case manager with Child Development Services in Downeast Maine.

Ashley’s leadership placement included building a robust pediatric mental health resource database for the Old Town School Department, one of the four community schools involved in the expansion.

Mulkern was also included in the professional development and one-on-one coaching and TAs as the school created comprehensive interdisciplinary mental health teams. “Ashley has gone above and beyond her LEND responsibilities in wanting to engage and be a good advisory partner and engage in the different components of the work we’re doing,” said Stacey LaFlamme, MCH Program Manager. “It’s meaningful to her as a Mom as well as the work she does.”

Mulkern agreed, “As a special educator and parent, supporting the CDC’s work on its Maine Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Grant has pushed me to reflect on my own personal practice, the practice within my career, and has introduced me to an amazing wider community of resources. It has been a very rewarding and motivating experience.”