Duke Medicine is leading a collaboration with the Durham public schools and local agencies to develop better-integrated mental health care for children. Helen Egger is a child psychiatrist at Duke and leads the initiative. She says too often kids with psychiatric disorders are shuffled between schools, hospitals, and law enforcement- each addressing the problems on their own terms. Egger wants to develop school-based models that can fill in the gaps between services.
Helen Egger: "If a child has a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation before things blow up, before the kid throws a chair at a teacher or through a window and then has the police come and take them to the ED, if there could be recognition of what the early signs are, that maybe there was an underlying psychiatric disorder going on."
Egger says the first phase of the initiative will track the approximately 200 Durham children per year who come through Duke's psychiatric emergency department, to determine how their needs are and are not being met. The collaboration is funded with a grant from the Duke Endowment.