Integrated Behavioral Health
4/26/21 Personal Statement- Dr. James Lee
It’s both with pride and some amazement that I can introduce a truly new component to our practice: integrated behavioral health. Opportunities like this come very infrequently- like once a career- so it’s almost like being in the newborn room taking in the amazement of a new baby- full of joy and just a touch of apprehension!
What is integrated behavioral health? At a basic level, it means we work side by side with our behavioral health team - one office serving multiple needs. But it’s deeper than that. It’s about understanding and exploring the interrelationship between how we act and behave to how we feel and function. And it’s imbedded in pediatrics because prevention, education and support is so much better than the consequences and sequela of doing too little, too late.
For me, behavioral health is more than promoting a new service or listing all the diagnosis’s we can better assist in "treating"; it’s about getting to the root of the problem earlier, hopefully, than later. It’s peeling away the stigma that something is “wrong” or needs to be “fixed” to how we can better understand and function as a person and a family.
For all the services and consults and interventions that will be available, the most important one, in my opinion, is yet to be developed- understanding our interrelationships to our children, our families and ourselves. We’ve learned so much in the past 20 years about the biology of the brain and development in children and how it relates to attachment, parenting and family functioning. Each of these are critically important and I can’t wait to share that with you, with our team, and also by reviewing the amazing literature that has been written on parenting and family functioning. There are lots of "how to" guides out there but they’re just words if you don’t understand the why.
I headlined this as the new age of pediatrics and in fact it is. But I want you to know that behavioral health can and should be so much more than fixing a problem or managing a condition. It’s about insight, self reflection and maybe some vulnerability. It’s OK to say I don’t know, it’s OK to seek answers, it’s OK to apologize. We can be a safe harbor for your child and your family. I also want to say thank you, in advance, for entrusting your care to all of us working together to make our patients, our families and our communities better, as best we can. That has always been my vision and this is a core mission of pediatrics that I’ll always stay committed to.