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DC Collaborative for Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care

Health Priority:

  • Mental Health


  • DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Children’s Law Center
  • Children's National Medical Center
  • DC Department of Behavioral Health
  • DC Department Health Care Finance
  • Georgetown University

In this country, approximately 13 percent of youth live with a serious mental illness, but only about 20 percent of them get the help they need. While primary care providers are often positioned to assess a child’s behavioral problems early on, many feel ill-equipped to make the right referrals, prescribe medications, or manage a chronic condition.

To give District pediatricians the resources they need, Children’s National worked with other area intuitions to establish the DC Collaborative for Mental Health in Pediatric Primary Care.

Headed by Lee Beers, M.D., Medical Director, Child Health Advocacy Institute, Children’s National serves as the administrative home for the comprehensive, city-wide effort. It works to support and/or implement initiatives focused on:

  • Supporting primary care practices and clinicians
  • Supporting families
  • Integrating mental health services into primary care
  • Engaging in related policy and advocacy efforts

Recognizing that only 35 percent of District pediatricians had a current listing of mental health providers, the collaborative’s first undertaking was to develop and distribute a printed directory of providers to streamline referrals.

The hard-copy guide then evolved into DC MAP, a phone consultation and referral service that helps pediatricians choose the best course of action on specific cases. And, in the fall of 2015, those resources were made available online at

Learn More about the DC MAP project

Because most pediatricians report being least knowledgeable about mental health services for children under 5, the collaborative has increased its focus on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with projects like:

  • A perinatal toolkit to help family doctors identify postpartum depression and other parental mental health issues
  • A parent’s guide to getting mental health services
To guide future efforts, the partners formed a working group charged with planning, implementing, and evaluating new initiatives, as well as a community advisory board to provide strategic direction and feedback. 
DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics (DC MAP)

DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics (DC MAP)

Staffed by a dedicated team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and care coordinators. DC Mental Health Access in Pediatrics (DC MAP) offers free mental health consultation services to local primary care providers. 

DC MAP helps physicians link families with needed mental health resources through a range of services:

  • Real-time phone consultations with mental health professionals
  • Online requests through
  • Referrals and in-person consultations
  • Education and training for clinicians through newsletters, webinars, and lectures 
  • Medication reviews quarterly 

The provider-to-provider program was designed to answer unmet mental health needs in the District by: 

  • Increasing collaboration between pediatric primary care providers and child mental health specialists
  • Promoting mental health within primary care
  • Improving diagnosis and treatment of child mental health problems
  • Promoting the use of scarce specialty mental health resources for the most high-risk children 

Physicians can learn more about DC MAP, enroll in the program, or request a consultation, via or 1-844-30-DCMAP.

Early Childhood Innovation Network

Early Childhood Innovation Network

The Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) is a local collaborative of health and education providers, community organizations, researchers and advocates promoting resilience in families and children from pregnancy through age 5 in Washington, D.C. During this critical period of brain development, children are deeply affected by their experiences and environment. ECIN’s approach affirms the tremendous opportunity to promote and ensure healthy development of young children.

Visit or contact ECIN at [email protected] to learn more. Website visitors can meet ECIN’s team and funders, learn about ECIN’s innovations in Washington, D.C., and discover helpful resources. 

Parent Guide

Parent Guide

The Collaborative has also developed a resource guide to support parents, families, and guardians.

Because seeking mental healthcare can be a new and daunting experience, the guide was designed to help families understand:

  • What to do if their child needs mental health services
  • How to seek care
  • Where to find care
  • How to navigate what can be a complicated system

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