(WJHL)- In this edition of HMG Health Matters, News Channel 11’s Sara Diamond talks to officials with Holston Medical Group and Frontier Health about a unique partnership to get children the mental health services they need, and quickly during a pandemic.
Holston Medical group pediatrician Dr. Danielle Street is seeing an increase in mental health issues with her patients.
“I think if you think about how much it’s affecting adults, you can only imagine how much it’s affecting children,” she said. “Children don’t always express how they’re feeling well. They’re learning that, and that’s part of growing up is learning how to express their emotions and telling us how they feel.”
Street says the mental pain can manifest physically.
“It’s not always that the child comes in and says, ‘ I’m feeling anxious, or I’m feeling upset’. Sometimes they have chronic abdominal pain, or chronic headaches, and we have to dig a little deeper to figure out exactly what’s going on,” Street said.
Sarah Bedingfield of Frontier Health is also seeing an uptick in cases in students.
“A lot of anxiety. A lot of depression. A lot of difficulty with isolation, lack of structure, behavior problems, a lot happening just with the changes that have occurred,” she said.
Holston Medical Group has partnered with Frontier Health to ensure kids get the mental health services they need…and fast. Bedingfield says a Frontier liaison is on duty and can fast-track the referral.
Bedingfield said, “She (the liaison) is able to go directly to our intake specialist and get them a slot within the next week or two and they’re in.”
According to Bedingfield, this partnership is invaluable, but parents still need to do what they can from home to reassure their children that they aren’t the only one feeling this way.
“Be empathetic, stop and take time, make the eye contact, stop doing what you’re doing spend time with them,” she recommended.
Street says this partnership has really helped kids through some tough times.
“Our partnership with Frontier Health has been really awesome,” she said. “It’s been almost two years now, and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”
They both recommend watching the amount of screen time, with both television and social media.