Maryland Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics

Committee on Emotional & Mental Health

  Chair:  Ken Tellerman, MD

  Committee Members: Margo Candelaria Ph.D., Debbie Badawi M.D., Joyce Harrison M.D., Barbara Howard M.D., Natalie Spicyn M.D., Annemiek Wilms-Floet M.D.


Focuses on integrating appropriate mental health evaluation and services into pediatric primary care, fostering positive parent infant interactions and developing and delivering training programs related to mental health for pediatric providers.

Recent Activity:

The main recent focus of the Emotional Health Committee has been the development and dissemination of the GROW YOUR KIDS: TREE (Talk Read Engage Encourage) program.

The TREE program is an innovative, low cost, easily implemented, replicable, sustainable and positive brief intervention that can be delivered during well child visits. Pediatric providers are taught to encourage parents to reflect on the kinds of things they enjoy doing with their young children by incorporating toys and books into the well child encounter and providing a schema for parents to understand child development and to continue to talk, read and play with their young children at home.

The TREE program has received grant funding from the Abell Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics Friends of Children Healthy People 2020, AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Bloomberg School of Public Health Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality.

The program has been presented at multiple Baltimore City and County pediatric grand rounds and as workshops in Western Maryland, Baltimore City and on the Eastern Shore.

The program has also been integrated into residency training programs at Johns Hopkins, Sinai Hospital and University of Maryland.

The efficacy of the TREE program is currently being studied at Sinai and University of Maryland Hospitals through a generous grant from the Abell Foundation.

Parent educational materials and provider training materials are located on the MDAAP website: GROW YOUR KIDS.

Goals for the Year:

• The efficacy of the TREE program will be evaluated at Sinai and University of Maryland Hospitals and pediatric residents at both programs will be taught how to integrate the program into well child visits

• Pediatric residents at Johns Hopkins Hospital will continue to receive training in the TREE program through the Children’s Hospital Innovations grant. In addition, funding will be used to provide training to Harriet Lane staff in the Mother Goose on the Loose program which seeks to build parent child relationships through play, music and dance. Funding will also be used to implement the “Thinking Outside the Blocks” program in which toy wooden blocks will be distributed to families during well child visits at Harriet Lane along with educational materials reinforcing the importance of play in the lives of young children

• Pediatric providers at five FQHC’s selected by the Baltimore City Health Department will receive training in the TREE program through the Abell Foundation grant

In addition, the BI-PED (Brief Interventions in Pediatric Mental Health Care) project located on the MDAAP website BI-PED Project is an educational resource for primary care pediatric providers who deliver first line mental health in their practices. The BI-PED was also developed by the MDAAP Emotional Health Committee.

The BI-PED contains an array of mostly non-pharmacologic interventions developed for pediatric providers on mental health subjects such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, autism, discipline problems and motivational interviewing.

Relevant Links: BI-PED Project