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Funded Projects

Minnesota Pediatric Mental Health Access Program

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program (PMHCA)

Project Director(s):

Sarah Dunne
Minnesota Department of Health
85 East 7th St.
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN  55164-0882
Phone: (651) 201-3654


Childhood and adolescence lay the framework for lifelong mental health outcomes. During these crucial developmental stages, screening, evaluation, assessment, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment of mental health issues is critical for preservation of emotional well-being later in life. An estimated 20% of Minnesota children and youth (0-17 years old) have a diagnosed mental or behavioral health condition, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated many of these mental health concerns. For children and their families, mental health treatment offers hope for improvement in quality of life and positive adult outcomes. However, multiple systemic barriers exist to actual receipt of care.

Goals and Objectives:

The main aim of this project is to promote behavioral health integration into pediatric primary care by better equipping pediatric PCPs to screen for and respond to mental health concerns in children and adolescents -- especially those from underserved populations. This aim will be achieved through the following goals: 1) Cultivate and support a collaborative leadership structure where problems and solutions are defined and decision-making power is shared. 2) Enhance quality and reach of Minnesota's Psychiatric Assistance Line to better provide mental health consultations and referrals via telehealth. 3) Increase the capacity of PCPs to screen for and respond to mental health concerns in children and adolescents in culturally-relevant and developmentally-appropriate ways. 4) Coordinate and enhance centralized resource directories to increase easeful access to mental and behavioral health services and supports.


The project will include convening an Advisory Council of community partners to guide the project and will create an inclusive leadership structure for the project that includes a Program Manager, Data Manager, Grantee/Interagency Leads, and a Family/Youth Consultants. Minnesota will complete a comprehensive, equity-focused evaluation of strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and opportunities related to Minnesota's existing Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL) where pediatric mental health care teams composed of child and adolescent psychiatrists, licensed mental health professionals, provide telehealth consultation and referral. The project will support and enhance utilization of PAL amongst pediatric PCPs, particularly those who serve children and youth who are Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) or are from rural or typically underserved communities and will improve coordination of care through the support of care coordinators. Minnesota's will provide training and technical assistance on early identification, diagnosis, treatment, and referral of children with mental health issues to improve knowledge of PCP's statewide on best practices in screening, referral, and treatment for children and adolescents with mental health concerns.


The proposed project will leverage existing partnerships with existing programs, projects, and initiatives to establish the infrastructure to improve screening, diagnosis, treatment, referral and use of pediatric mental health care teams to provide consultative support to pediatric primary care clinicians. Participants and collaborators in the implementation of the initiative include: family and community leaders; staff from the Minnesota Departments of Health (Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant), Human Services (Medicaid, Behavioral Health); Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional provider organizations; and others.


Evaluation of this project utilizes a three-tiered performance measure framework to demonstrate the impacts of Minnesota's PMHAP on outcomes within the state and track work across the four goal areas (i.e., cultivate collaborative leadership, enhance Minnesota's PAL, increase PCP capacity, and coordinate centralized resources).