The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Innovations Center (UM-MHIC) brings together our world-class scientists from many fields of research and patient care to bring hope as quickly as possible to underserved children struggling with mental illness. The center will be committed to research that addresses the biological and psychological factors contributing to children’s mental illness. These populations include the youngest patients — infants, toddlers, and preschoolers — youth who have been victims of violence and other traumas, young people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness, and families who seek services outside of traditional mental health settings because of stigma or access concerns. This research systematically tackles social barriers to quality children’s mental health care including access, stigma, limited workforce training, and inadequate, poorly coordinated community resources.
The center encompasses several new translational programs. These initiatives include the Peer to Peer Program, a Medicaid-funded antipsychotic pre-authorization treatment program developed to improve appropriate prescribing and safety monitoring for youth treated with antipsychotic medication. It also includes the MATCH program (Making All the Children Healthy), an initiative by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services that provides health screening for all Baltimore City youth in foster care as they enter the child welfare system.
These initiatives provide direct services to improve the psychiatric care of underserved youth — those entering the child welfare system. They also work to improve appropriate safety monitoring for children, including monitoring for obesity-related side effects in preschoolers treated with antipsychotic medication. These programs also provide a vehicle to study treatment outcomes, identify predictors of treatment response, and study youth with complex psychopathology — psychological trauma combined with learning disabilities and mood disorders — who often are excluded from traditional research studies.
The UM-MHIC also focuses on research to improve effective screening for youth at risk for psychosis, and predictors of obesity related health problems in youth with serious mental illness. The faculty train other providers nationally and throughout the state of Maryland on the implementation of evidence-based practices addressing trauma, early childhood issues, and school mental health problems.
The center supported by significant partnerships with statewide family organizations, including the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health, community programs and agencies, including the Mental Hygiene Administration of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Human Resources, and Medicaid, as well as researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Child Psychiatry Division.