Time: The Most Essential Ingredient in Accessing Pediatric Mental Health

Nicoleta Serban, professor at the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, says time is the most essential ingredient in accessing pediatric mental health. However, too many children in Georgia are stuck in their parents’ cars traveling 45 miles or more—each way—to receive those and other critical services.

“Over a course of the day, there are many barriers preventing a child from playing,” said Serban. “We need to cherish kids’ playtime. We all know the benefits of playtime—it fosters creativity and it’s one of the main ingredients driving mental health in children.”

Serban recommended freeing up both parents’ and children’s time by bringing health care—such as basic dental care, asthma care, and vaccinations—to where children spend a lot of time: schools. She asked: What if pediatric mental health care was provided in all schools? And what if they also served the community?

“We’ve created a space for children to be educated during school time. Why not do the same thing for health care—and create health care time for children at school?” said Serban. “We need to relax the school health care system, to remove constraints from the system in order to be able to have the resources to provide health care in schools.”


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