Embedding Behavioral Health in Pediatric Care at UPMC Children’s

The Behavioral Science Division at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is an innovative department that provides a comprehensive ecosystem of care. Collaborating with UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, the division is on a mission to redefine their model of care, aligning with leading pediatric institutions nationwide.

Embedded Psychiatric Care at UPMC Children’s

Previously, the division focused mainly on outpatient care for its behavioral health patients. Today, the division is moving to a pediatric psychology model, with providers seamlessly integrated into subspecialty teams, like cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, oncology, and more.

This transformative approach allows for holistic, interdisciplinary care between medical and behavioral health to better serve the needs of young patients. From early childhood development to neonatal follow-up clinics, patients are provided with comprehensive care for both their bodies and their minds.

Philanthropy and Impact on the Division

The division is working to fuel innovation, expand services, and the deliver the integrated and accessible behavioral health services that every child deserves. “We do not work with children in isolation; we work with families,” says Chelsea N. Grefe McCann, PsyD, who serves as the division’s Program Director. Through education, advocacy, and support, the division strives to ensure that every aspect of a child’s life is in harmony with their behavioral health needs.

Philanthropic contributions have already helped fund part-time and full-time psychologists in specialized clinics like the Down Syndrome Center and the Heart and Vascular Institute and provided support towards the opening of the Behavioral Health Walk-in Clinic.

Looking forward, the division has goals to further innovate its approach to holistic behavioral health. Groundbreaking new approaches like the virtual Comfort Ability Program and family support initiatives empower patients and caregivers with the tools and resources to navigate their behavioral health journey with resilience and confidence.

Engagement with the local community is also important for the division, fostering initiatives and partnerships to address behavioral health needs proactively. Whether through school collaborations or outreach programs, the division strives to provide support for all families facing behavioral health challenges.

Looking Toward the Future

Currently, staff in the division balance their time between inpatient consultations and dedicated outpatient hours, helping families to navigate the complex landscape of pediatric behavioral health. To relieve the intense demand on its psychologists, leaders in the division are working to cultivate a pipeline of student talent through internship and fellowship programs, nurturing future leaders in pediatric behavioral health and ensuring continuity of care for generations to come.

The Behavioral Science Division at UPMC Children’s consists of not only embedded psychologists and therapists, but also evaluative psychologists for autism evaluations, psychiatrists, evaluator clinicians in the Emergency Department, and Walk-in Clinic therapists. Together, this team leads the way on the path to a healthier future for every child and adolescent in the region. Through collaboration, innovation, and unwavering dedication, the division continues to redefine the landscape of pediatric behavioral health, one young life at a time.