There’s a shortage of child psychiatrists, and kids are hurting

Pediatrician Karen Rhea said she found it “gut-wrenching” to see young people in psychiatric crisis: a teen who overdosed, the one with mental illness who landed in jail, the high school senior who tried to kill herself by crashing her car. With a population of about 20,000 then, Franklin, Tenn., where she practiced, had no child and adolescent psychiatrists, so Rhea spent long hours searching for inpatient care, phoning judges, looking for mental-health specialists in Nashville 20 miles away.

Sometimes her efforts made a difference. The suicide survivor thrived in therapy. She wrote a note to Rhea, thanking her for saving her life.

Eventually, Rhea became convinced she could better serve patients as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and returned to medical school. Now she is chief medical officer of Centerstone, one of the largest community mental health providers in Tennessee.

Be the first to comment