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Behavioral Health Clinic Partners with Healthcare Initiative Foundation to Expand Services

Boys Town Expanding

Boys Town Washington DC is expanding its Behavioral Health Clinic into Montgomery County thanks to an ongoing partnership with the Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF), a funder who focuses on bringing equitable healthcare service to the county.

The role of the licensed psychologists in Boys Town's Model is:

  1. EXPERT EDUCATOR: Provide expert knowledge to improve the psychological and behavioral health literacy of physicians and provide expert knowledge to improve the psychological and behavioral health literacy of parents of pediatric patients.

  2. EVALUATOR: Conduct behavioral and cognitive evaluations to help physicians detect overlooked disorders that require treatment.

  3. COORDINATOR: Coordinate care with physicians and the parents of pediatric patients to ensure that key influencers are aware of the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plan, and their respective roles as co-interventionists.

  4. HEALER: Provide research-supported behavioral health interventions that address the cognitive and behavioral issues and skills needed to live a healthier life.

 Boys Town's Behavioral Health Clinic provides much-needed pediatric behavioral health services to Montgomery County, including recently assisting a 16-year-old girl who was referred to the program by her pediatrician.

The youth had a history of self-injurious behavior, substance abuse, problems in school, a learning disorder, depression, and anxiety. She had also been a victim of domestic abuse.

The nurse who first interacted with the girl during a routine annual wellness visit noticed she seemed dejected and withdrawn. The nurse relayed this to the physician who then asked the girl to complete a depression screener. Boys Town had previously informed the primary care office that if she scored above the cutoff, it would be a signal to make a referral to the Behavioral Health Clinic. The physician followed this advice and prompted their Clinical Care Coordinator to contact Boys Town to set up a visit. That same day, the youth and family members were contacted and services with Boys Town were set up. The girl was clear about wanting to improve her self-esteem, anger problems, and mood issues.

“I just want to feel better about myself," she said. “I feel like a screw up. I've let my family down. I've let myself down. I want to do better."

Thanks to the partnership between Boys Town and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation, the girl began
treatment immediately.

She received evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy with an emphasis placed on behavioral activation, value-centric decision making, and developing healthier social networks. Mindfulness practices were also stressed, along with increasing structure, increasing distress tolerance, strategies to improve sleep hygiene, emotional communication techniques, anger management, and other skills to improve relationships with family members.

There were a total of 13 sessions over six months and the results were impressive.

She cut approximately 50 percent of her anxiety symptoms and approximately 80 percent of her depression symptoms. She also reported improvement in her social relationships and was able to speak with her mother more cordially. She became more confident in her ability to manage her anger and improved her self-esteem for academics with strategies for attention span and reading comprehension.

There were also visual signs of improvement as she transformed her bare bedroom into a beautifully decorated artistic masterpiece. She cleaned the room daily without being told.

Along the way, the Boys Town licensed psychologists made bi-weekly phone calls to the pediatric practice to provide updates and offer recommendations. In addition, the psychologists wrote letters to the primary care physician summarizing the latest results of behavioral evaluations which helped enhance decision making regarding the appropriateness of considering psychotropic medication (i.e., antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers) to complement the behavioral health interventions. The youth and family were aware of this communication and expressed appreciation for putting so much time, energy, and effort into the care. This had a positive effect on the youth and family's engagement.

It truly was a success story for the partnership between Boys Town Washington DC and HIF.

“HIF is proud to invest in initiatives that break down barriers to ensure equitable access to health and wellness services," said Crystal Carr Townsend, President and CEO of Healthcare Initiative Foundation. “This innovative collaboration with Boys Town Washington DC and Montgomery County pediatricians does just that by effectively integrating behavioral health in a healthcare setting to provide comprehensive mind and body care."

In 2020, Boys Town served a total of 455 children through its national Behavioral Health Clinics. Boys Town Washington DC served 57 children through its 2020 grant from HIF.