Delivering Mental Health Services in Primary Care: FAST Programs Make It Easier
March 2, 2022
Offering mental health services in places that are already familiar to and visited by youth – including their primary care doctor’s office – is a pediatric health priority. To support this important work, the Partnership Access Line (PAL) has created a one-stop-shop for therapy training and materials, packaged by diagnosis (i.e. depression, anxiety, etc.).
Called FAST (First Approach Skills Training), the goal is to help PCPs connect their patients to brief, evidence-based therapy within the medical home so that patients will take those critical first steps toward care. If longer-term services turn out to be needed, patients and families who have gone through the FAST program will be more likely to also take the next step.
Diagnoses treated by FAST
FAST programs address these common youth mental health concerns:
- Disruptive behavior
- Parenting of Teens
For each diagnosis, FAST provides a set of training and materials.
Role of the PCP
The PCPs’ role is to identify the mental health concern during the youth’s visit and, if appropriate, provide one of the 2-page FAST education handouts (linked below) that describe actionable steps the family can take on their own.
For PCPs who have a FAST-trained mental health provider on their team, families can participate in brief, workbook-guided FAST programs as a next step in care.
Brief workbook-guided FAST programs
The workbook-guided portion of FAST programs is designed to be delivered by mental health professionals, who may be embedded in the primary care office or seeing youth in the community. See FAST training for mental health providers below to learn ways your care team can access free FAST program training and support.
Depending on which FAST program the child is in, materials may include:
- A two-page handout for PCPs to give parents to educate them about their child’s mental health problem and get them started supporting their child:
- Anxiety: Two-page anxiety education handout for parents/caregivers (all ages) (English) (Spanish)
- Disruptive behavior: Two-page anxiety education handout for parents/caregivers (all ages) (English) (Spanish)
- Depression: Two-page depression education handout for teens and caregivers (English) (Spanish)
- Trauma: Two-page trauma education handout for parents/caregivers (all ages) (English) (Spanish not yet available)
- Parenting Teens (parents only): Two-page education handout for parents of teens
- Youth workbook
- Parent/caregiver workbook
- Educational video for the parent
- Provider guide or FAQs
FAST training for mental health providers
The FAST resources are designed to be easy to understand and use, and are freely available for anyone to download. The 2-page educational handouts, for example, can be used by PCPs and other professionals without training or support from the FAST team. Some mental health providers familiar with evidence-based treatments may be able to make use of the other treatment materials (e.g., youth and caregiver workbooks) without any training. For most mental health providers, however, FAST training will involve one or more of the following three components:
- Free, on-demand training videos for each FAST program, which walk mental health providers through the key ideas and show how to use the freely downloadable handouts and workbook materials. Each on-demand video is approximately two hours long.
- Live, interactive web-based workshops, designed to give mental health providers hands-on skills practice and in-depth troubleshooting of common challenges that can come up for each program. Trainings are two hours for each program and currently free to primary care-based mental health providers in Washington state. Our next live training series begins this spring; please email us at FAST@seattlechildrens.org if you are interested.
- Ongoing case-based learning and technical support, provided via video conferencing calls in small groups that meet every two weeks to discuss FAST cases and integration topics and troubleshoot challenges. Free for primary care-based mental health providers in Washington state.
While we’re talking about mental health… When Seattle Children’s shared the article “Helping Kids with Flexible Thinking” in our Good Growing newsletter recently, a unusually high volume of clicks told us this was a topic readers wanted to hear more about. The article discusses how to help kids think about things in new and different ways to better handle uncertainty, change and big emotions. You might consider sharing the article with families in your practice too. It’s also available in Spanish.