Doctors are often called upon to advocate for the well-being of their patients. Child psychiatrists and pediatricians are especially sensitive to the needs of children who rely on others to speak on their behalf. The Kentucky Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry supports these children and their families by promoting social, economic, educational, and political changes necessary to help our members provide the mental health care they need and deserve.

Expanding access to mental health care services has been a long-standing goal of our membership. Our physicians have met with other medical organizations and with state and federal legislators to encourage updated policies and regulations that improve the care we provide children, adolescents, and their families.

Many general pediatric providers struggle to find clinical guidance when treating a child’s mood and behavioral conditions, as the current demand for child psychiatrists is much greater than the available supply. Therefore, we support policies that facilitate greater collaboration with primary care providers, advocating for reimbursement for collaborative services, improved telemedicine access to providers for underserved areas, and expansion of training opportunities for future child psychiatrists.

Some have sought to expand treatment options within our state by licensing psychologists to prescribe medications themselves. Their Psy.D. or Ph.D. studies in psychology and human behavior have been instrumental in providing families with talk therapy and testing for deficits in psychological functions and human behavior. However, a crash course in prescribing is no substitute for the years of medical education and clinical experiences of psychiatrists, physicians who have up to 12 years of education in biology, anatomy, pharmacology, chemistry, and clinical rotations. Our clinical knowledge and experience ensure we can accurately diagnose mental and physical diseases that impact behavioral symptoms, recognize adverse effects and interactions with medications prescribed by other physicians, and interpret lab reports that ensure the well-being of our patients. Such safety concerns are paramount when treating children who are often more sensitive to adverse medical effects, and who are often unable to articulate symptoms of underlying physical illnesses that would be overlooked by someone without appropriate medical training. Expanding collaboration and access to psychiatric providers is much safer for youth in our state than expanding prescribing privileges to our psychologist colleagues.

For more information about issues involving the behavioral health needs of children and adolescents in our state, please contact the KACAP at
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