MOC4 Cohort Examines Teen Mental Health Screening Process to Improve Experience


The first cohort of the Minnesota Pediatric Mental Health Access Program MOC4 project is underway, having gathered via Zoom for its launch meeting in early May. 

The project, which is made possible with grant funding provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), aims to improve the mental health screening and referral process for BIPOC and LGBTQ adolescents. 

Integration of mental and behavioral health services into the pediatric primary care setting offers opportunity to increase access to culturally-relevant behavioral and mental health services and decrease barriers to care, especially those faced by children and youth from underserved racial, ethnic, geographic and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender backgrounds. MNAAP is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to provide the training to enrolled providers and clinics. 

Five clinics are participating in the MOC4 module that runs through August: CentraCare, Essentia Health, St. Luke’s, MHealth Fairview in Blaine, and Allina in Eagan. As part of the project, providers and clinic staff will collect data about current adolescent mental health screening and referral practices. 

Objectives of the MOC4 include: 

Increase provider/clinic rates of mental health or depression screening (using MDH identified screening tools) among patients 12-20 years of age attending Child & Teen Checkups or preventive health visits, particularly in rural or underserved areas of the state.

Increase the rate of documented consultation visits or referrals to mental health professional supports and services for those patients who screen positive for mental health concerns.

Increase the rate of documented completed follow-up by type (primary care based mental health/behavioral health services, community-based mental health/behavioral health services, or other) for those patients who screen positive for mental health concerns.

Document the comments from participating providers/clinicians uncovered in the audits related to gaps, barriers or lost to follow-up concerns

Two webinars will be presented to the group: the first will feature pediatricians with expertise in providing care and facilitating mental health support for BIPOC and LGBTQ patients; the second will be presented by members of a youth advisory council who will offer their own feedback about the mental health process. 

The youth leader component of the project is essential, explained MNAAP Executive Director Jeff Bauer: “The youth voice will be centered in this project. We are seeking improvements to the process for BIPOC and LGBTQ youth and the point is for them to feel safe, seen, and supported.” 

According to Minnesota Community Measurement, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition among young people, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQI+ youth. But many young people are never treated – or not until they’re in crisis. As cohort members introduced themselves during the first meeting, many commented on how excited they were to begin the work of addressing adolescent mental health — saying it was a much needed focus for their patients and families.

Community partners for the project include Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Family Partnership, and Rainbow Health. The Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL) is also participating. Psychiatric Assistance Line (PAL) provides free consultative and referral services for medical providers in Minnesota. Through the PAL program, Minnesota medical providers receive triaged consultation and referrals for patients who experience mental and emotional health issues.  A goal outcome of the project is to enhance the quality and reach of the PAL program. 

Physicians participating in the MOC4 project can receive up to 25 MOC4 credits, and each participating clinic receives $4,000 to support quality improvement-related activities. A second cohort will form in the fall. If you are interested in learning more about participating in the next cohort, email MNAAP Executive Director Jeff Bauer at 

Annual Sponsors

Children's Minnesota
Gillette Children's
Hennepin Healthcare
University of Minnesota Health
Essentia Health
Mayo Clinic
Shriners Healthcare for Children-Twin Cities