New telephone hotline launched to assist children and adolescents with mental health

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Photo courtesy of TTUHSC El Paso’s Facebook page.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s psychiatry department is launching a telephone hotline that will provide advice regarding child and adolescent patients with psychiatric symptoms.

The hotline will be launched on May 18 as part of the newly created Child Psuchiatry Access Network (CPAN).

Primary care providers, including pediatricians, family medicine physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, will be able to call the hotline with questions regarding diagnosis, therapy, medication, and referrals to other resources, a release said.

The hotline will be staffed by TTUHSC El Paso psychiatry department faculty members and staff, and will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Sarah Martin, M.D., assistant professor and chief of TTUHSC El Paso’s Child and Adolescent Division, said the hotline will decrease the amount of time it takes for young patients to receive mental health assistance.

“Through this hotline, children can be treated at the onset of their problems, instead of spending months on a waiting list as their illness becomes more severe,” said Dr. Martin, who is a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, TTUHSC El Paso’s clinical practice.

According to Dr. Martin, there are very few child and adolescent psychiatrists in our region, and this program will assist in providing assistance to those who do not have the help that they need.

The Aug. 3 tragedy followed by the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to strain on the mental health of children and adolescents.

“Whenever there are tragedies in a population, rates of trauma related mental health problems increase,” Dr. Martin said. “The recovery of our community in relation to the August 3 shooting will likely have two phases- acute phase where the fear of another shooting is intense- this is a phase where many people seek short periods of therapy services.  The second phase is delayed and longer lasting. In studies done in other communities that have had tragedies, the effects peak as late as three years after the incident,” Dr. Martin continued. “

“The COVID 19 pandemic has also caused fear in our community, but the social isolation and unemployment that are effects of the stay at home orders and social distancing will also likely put stress on our community and may increase the incidence of mental health problems.  Seeing as there was already a shortage of mental health professionals before these two events, makes it more important than ever to improve access to mental health treatment.”          

Primary care providers are invited to participate in CPAN by completing the Texas CPAN Practice Participation Agreement.                                             

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