What Should Parents Expect From a Health Plan That Provides Quality Behavioral Health Care?

December 2007

The mission of this web site is to strive towards an ideal health plan, one that provides parents and their families with quality behavioral health care.

While this ideal health plan may not yet exist, what can parents hope to find in the future in such a health plan?

> A health plan that encourages pediatricians and other health professionals to be equally concerned with the emotional needs of their children and families as with their medical needs.

> A health plan that will always consider the impact of emotional problems upon the family as a whole.

> A health plan that understands the importance of communication. Parents should feel comfortable discussing all of their concerns and worries with their pediatrician, and to expect a response that is empathic, methodical, and non-judgmental. Because parents should never feel rushed, their physician may conclude that it would be more helpful to invite parents to return on another occasion, when the problem can be more thoughtfully evaluated.

> A health plan that acknowledges the art of the referral. Parents should expect that physicians view the process of making timely referrals as an art, at times as important as the treatment process itself. The goal for parents and pediatricians should be to evaluate problems as early as possible. Oftentimes, pediatricians may conclude that they can understand the problem, themselves, and reach a constructive resolution with the parents. On the other hand, some physicians may feel, for a variety of reasons, that a referral to a behavioral health professional would be more appropriate.

> A health plan that encourages pediatricians to fully explore all potential problems within a family . Sometimes relationships between family members can be more serious, including abuse and or even domestic violence. Parents should anticipate that their pediatrician wouldn't hesitate to make such an inquiry and would also be able to provide them, over time, with the strength and insight to reassess such relationships as well as being able to consider the potential impact upon their children.

> A health plan that recognizes that treatment is a complex issue. Parents should be empowered by the work between parent and pediatrician so that a "cure" is not the absence of symptoms but, rather, the ability to nurture emotional competence and thoughtful decision-making on the part of all the family members.

We hope that this website will serve to educate parents, providers, and health plans on the importance of quality behavioral healthcare and that in the future, the considerations above will be paramount to health care practioners and providers.
~Howard S. King, MD, July 2002

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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,  and the families of my medical practice. 

I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.

- Dr. Howard King, M.D.