Wednesday, June 30, 2010

EXTENSION ON DEADLINE!! Need to call by Monday, July 12th, 5 pm (EST)


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2010


EXTENSION ON DEADLINE!! Need to call by Monday, July 12th, 5 pm (EST)

Action Alert! Ask Michelle Obama to address eating disorders!

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) is working with Congressman Alcee Hastings, who is asking Michelle Obama to expand her Childhood Obesity Initiative so that it also addresses eating disorders. Congressman Hastings has written the below letter to the First Lady. Currently Representatives Tammy Baldwin, Lois Capps, Donna Edwards, Barney Frank, and Patrick Kennedy have agreed to add their signatures. They are looking for additional Members of Congress to join them in taking a stand for eating disorders by signing onto this letter.

This is where you come in!

We ask that you call your Representative in the House and ask her/him to sign onto this letter. Deadline for you to call is Monday, July 12th and the deadline for Members of Congress to sign on is noon July 14th.

This is important. We have an opportunity to influence Michelle Obama's initiative so that it is more comprehensive and addresses the spectrum of eating disorders as well as obesity.

If you do one thing today - have it be this. Contact your Representative now.

Here's how:

1) Who is my Representative? If you don't know who your representative is

- go to www.house.gov

- put your 9 digit zip code into the box in upper left corner

- This will take you to your Representative

2) Calling your Rep

- Call 202-224-3121 which is the Capitol Switchboard and ask for your Rep's office. They will connect you

3) The MESSAGE

Tell the person answering that you are a constituent of Congressman/woman XX and that you would like him/her to sign onto Alcee Hastings letter that urges Michelle Obama to incorporate eating disorders into her childhood obesity campaign. The deadline for signing onto the letter is noon July 14th.

The receptionist may transfer you to the health legislative assistant who is in charge of this issue. You then repeat your message. You can get this person's email address and send the letter below.

More message:

Everyday people are dying of eating disorders yet this reality remains unrecognized and hidden. When there is such a focus on weight as is the case in the First Lady's initiative - this invariably results in some people using risky weight loss methods, the increase of weight-related stigma and bullying, and developing eating disorders. Unless Michelle Obama overtly includes a discussion of eating disorders in her efforts there is the unintended possibility that her campaign will do harm. If your boss adds his/her name to this letter it will help influence the First Lady's Initiative so that it is comprehensive and promotes health for all children.

If the office wants to sign on to this letter, they should contact Amye Greene at 5-1313 or amye.greene@mail.house.gov. This is for Members of Congress and their staff ONLY - please do not contact Amye as an advocate. If advocates have questions please contact Jeanine at the EDC at jeaninecogan@starpower.net.

The Sign-On Letter:

DISCUSSION DRAFT

June 28, 2010

The First Lady of the United States

The White House

441 G Street, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

Thank you for championing the health and welfare of our nation’s children through the Let’s Move Campaign. Let’s Move has brought historic attention to the importance of addressing one the most serious public health concerns of today. However, we believe that broadening Let’s Move’s focus to include information about eating disorders would enhance the campaign’s mission to improve the mental and physical health of all children.

We understand that obesity and eating disorders have distinct health impacts, and believe that the prevalence of these disorders indicates the need for comprehensive and well-coordinated interventions that support healthier habits and environments. Like obesity, unhealthy weight loss measures, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) have increased significantly over the past few decades. In fact, more than 11 million men, women and children suffer from an eating disorder in the United States.

In a speech that publicly introduced the Let’s Move Campaign, you stated that unhealthy diets and habits can negatively influence physical, emotional and educational development and well-being. Eating disorders are no exception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that undernourishment impacts a student’s ability to excel academically, and suicide, anxiety and depression are more common in people with eating disorders. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, and can result in long-term health issues including heart and kidney failure, cognitive impairment, muscle atrophy and sudden death.

Like obesity, eating disorders afflict children of different ages, genders, economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. At least 30-40 percent of junior high students have reported dieting, over half of high-school girls have reported dieting, and 25 percent of bulimia and anorexia cases are men. What’s more, student athletes can be especially vulnerable to eating disorders because some adopt unhealthy dietary restrictions and weight loss methods to achieve or maintain a certain weight for competition. Many obese individuals resort to unhealthy weight loss tactics and may develop eating disorders in an attempt to achieve a desired weight or body image.

Strong environmental, cultural, social factors have contributed to the high rates of obesity and eating disorders in the United States. Stigma, blame and misinformation often accompany these conditions. Coordinated efforts among educators, elected officials, parents, community leaders and young people are crucial to executing sustainable solutions to these public health problems. We believe that Let’s Move Campaign’s mission is compatible with messages and interventions that are designed to address eating disorders. Educators could incorporate information about unhealthy dieting when providing information about healthy food choices. Speeches and parental toolkits could include information about risks, signs and support networks for eating disorders. And, the Let’s Move Web site could include a link to the Office of Women’s Health Web site which has comprehensive and evidence based information on eating disorders.

The unprecedented leadership in the battle against obesity through the Let’s Move Campaign shows your commitment to creatively and aggressively improving the health of children, families and communities. We hope that you will take our suggestions into consideration so that the Let’s Move Campaign can take a more holistic approach to addressing the full spectrum of behaviors that are compromising the health of America’s children.

Sincerely,

Alcee L. Hastings

Member of Congress

_________________________

Please email policyassistantedc@yahoo.com once you have made your phone calls to report who you called.

Thank you for adding your voice to this effort. Every call makes a difference!

From the Hill,

Jeanine Cogan, Ph.D., Policy Director
Eating Disorders Coalition
www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org
202-352-3208

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TIME SENSITIVE Action Alert! Ask Michelle Obama to address eating disorders!

TIME SENSITIVE Action Alert! Ask Michelle Obama to address eating disorders!

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) is working with Congressman Alcee Hastings, who cares about eating disorders and is asking Michelle Obama to expand her Childhood Obesity Initiative so that it also addresses eating disorders. Congressman Hastings has written the below letter to the First Lady and is looking for additional Members of Congress to join him in taking a stand for eating disorders by signing onto this letter.

This is where you come in!

We ask that you call your Representative in the House and ask her/him to sign onto this letter. Deadline for signing on is close of business Thursday, July 1st.

This is important. We have an opportunity to influence Michelle Obama's initiative so that it is more comprehensive and addresses the spectrum of eating disorders as well as obesity.

If you do one thing today - have it be this. Contact your Representative now.

Here's how:

1) Who is my Representative? If you don't know who your representative is
- go to www.house.gov
- put your 9 digit zip code into the box in upper left corner
- This will take you to your Representative

2) Calling your Rep
- Call 202-224-3121 which is the Capitol Switchboard and ask for your Rep's office. They will connect you

3) The MESSAGE

Tell the person answering that you are a constituent of Congressman/woman XX and that you would like him/her to sign onto Alcee Hastings letter that urges Michelle Obama to incorporate eating disorders into her childhood obesity campaign. The deadline for signing onto the letter is July 1st.

The receptionist may transfer you to the health legislative assistant who is in charge of this issue. You then repeat your message. You can get this person's email address and send the letter below.

More message:

Everyday people are dying of eating disorders yet this reality remains unrecognized and hidden. When there is such a focus on weight as is the case in the First Lady's initiative - this invariably results in some people using risky weight loss methods, the increase of weight-related stigma and bullying, and developing eating disorders. Unless Michelle Obama overtly includes a discussion of eating disorders in her efforts there is the unintended possibility that her campaign will do harm. If your boss adds his/her name to this letter it will help influence the First Lady's Initiative so that it is comprehensive and promotes health for all children.

If the office wants to sign on to this letter, they should contact Amye Greene at 5-1313 or amye.greene@mail.house.gov. This is for Members of Congress and their staff ONLY - please do not contact Amye as an advocate. If advocates have questions please contact Jeanine at the EDC at jeaninecogan@starpower.net.

The Sign-On Letter:


DISCUSSION DRAFT

June 28, 2010

The First Lady of the United States
The White House
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

Thank you for championing the health and welfare of our nation’s children through the Let’s Move Campaign. Let’s Move has brought historic attention to the importance of addressing one the most serious public health concerns of today. However, we believe that broadening Let’s Move’s focus to include information about eating disorders would enhance the campaign’s mission to improve the mental and physical health of all children.

We understand that obesity and eating disorders have distinct health impacts, and believe that the prevalence of these disorders indicates the need for comprehensive and well-coordinated interventions that support healthier habits and environments. Like obesity, unhealthy weight loss measures, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) have increased significantly over the past few decades. In fact, more than 11 million men, women and children suffer from an eating disorder in the United States.

In a speech that publicly introduced the Let’s Move Campaign, you stated that unhealthy diets and habits can negatively influence physical, emotional and educational development and well-being. Eating disorders are no exception. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that undernourishment impacts a student’s ability to excel academically, and suicide, anxiety and depression are more common in people with eating disorders. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, and can result in long-term health issues including heart and kidney failure, cognitive impairment, muscle atrophy and sudden death.

Like obesity, eating disorders afflict children of different ages, genders, economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. At least 30-40 percent of junior high students have reported dieting, over half of high-school girls have reported dieting, and 25 percent of bulimia and anorexia cases are men. What’s more, student athletes can be especially vulnerable to eating disorders because some adopt unhealthy dietary restrictions and weight loss methods to achieve or maintain a certain weight for competition. Many obese individuals resort to unhealthy weight loss tactics and may develop eating disorders in an attempt to achieve a desired weight or body image.

Strong environmental, cultural, social factors have contributed to the high rates of obesity and eating disorders in the United States. Stigma, blame and misinformation often accompany these conditions. Coordinated efforts among educators, elected officials, parents, community leaders and young people are crucial to executing sustainable solutions to these public health problems. We believe that Let’s Move Campaign’s mission is compatible with messages and interventions that are designed to address eating disorders. Educators could incorporate information about unhealthy dieting when providing information about healthy food choices. Speeches and parental toolkits could include information about risks, signs and support networks for eating disorders. And, the Let’s Move Web site could include a link to the Office of Women’s Health Web site which has comprehensive and evidence based information on eating disorders.

The unprecedented leadership in the battle against obesity through the Let’s Move Campaign shows your commitment to creatively and aggressively improving the health of children, families and communities. We hope that you will take our suggestions into consideration so that the Let’s Move Campaign can take a more holistic approach to addressing the full spectrum of behaviors that are compromising the health of America’s children.

Sincerely,

Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
_________________________


If the office has any questions or wants to sign on to this letter, they should contact Amye Greene at 5-1313 or amye.greene@mail.house.gov.

Thank you for adding your voice to this effort. Every call makes a difference!

From the Hill,

Jeanine Cogan, Ph.D., Policy Director
Eating Disorders Coalition
www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org
202-352-3208

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicago Tribune interviews F.E.A.S.T. members

Our Executive Director was interviewed on background and F.E.A.S.T. members quoted in an article today in the Chicago Tribune:

Maudsley Approach a little-known but evidence-based treatment for anorexia

Monday, June 21, 2010

Advocate from Iowa Writes Editorial on FREED Act!

Support bill to treat eating disorders


Thank you to Dr. Leslie Murray, for taking time to write this editorial! ~

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lobby Day Makes a Difference: The Number of Members Supporting FREED Increases

Dear EDC friends,

Our last lobby day in April had a noticeable impact! The number of new Members of Congress who signed on as cosponsors to the FREED Act since then is 17 (14 in the House and 3 in the Senate)! We currently have 41 cosponsors on the House version (see the list below).

We are on a roll! Let's keep the momentum going. If you haven't already - send letters to your congressional representatives by following the easy step-by-step instructions at this link http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm

Also help us to get other people to participate in this letter writing campaign. Forward these ideas to 10 people you know:

1. Tweet it: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to: http://ow.ly/1VKWQ” (107 characters)

2. Post this as your Facebook status: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to:http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm

3. Encourage your Facebook friends to "share" your status!

4. Post the message on walls of appropriate Facebook groups/fan pages!

5. Send the link http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm with a personal note to all your friends and colleagues in your email address book

6. Ask those friends and colleagues to help spread the word

7. Send the link http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm to advocacy groups, lists, etc.

8. Blog about our Letter Writing Campaign

H.R.1193

Title: Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2009
Sponsor: Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] (introduced 2/25/2009) Cosponsors (41)
Latest Major Action: 4/22/2009 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.


COSPONSORS(41), BY DATE [order is left to right]: (Sort: alphabetical order)

Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 2/25/2009
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 2/26/2009
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 3/9/2009
Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] - 4/2/2009
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 4/21/2009
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. "Gerry" [VA-11] - 4/29/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 4/30/2009
Rep LaTourette, Steven C. [OH-14] - 4/30/2009
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 5/5/2009
Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3] - 5/12/2009
Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 5/20/2009
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 5/21/2009
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 6/3/2009
Rep Gordon, Bart [TN-6] - 6/3/2009
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 6/9/2009
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 6/9/2009
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 6/11/2009
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 7/22/2009
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 9/8/2009
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 9/14/2009
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 9/25/2009
Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] - 9/25/2009
Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] - 10/7/2009
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 10/8/2009
Rep Schauer, Mark H. [MI-7] - 10/14/2009
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 12/7/2009
Rep Gerlach, Jim [PA-6] - 12/9/2009


Rep Markey, Betsy [CO-4] - 4/28/2010
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 4/28/2010
Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 4/28/2010
Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] - 5/4/2010
Rep Edwards, Donna F. [MD-4] - 5/11/2010
Rep Klein, Ron [FL-22] - 5/11/2010
Rep Boucher, Rick [VA-9] - 5/11/2010
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 5/20/2010
Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 5/20/2010
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 5/24/2010
Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] - 6/8/2010
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 6/14/2010
Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] - 6/14/2010
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 6/14/2010

Envy

Why not this with eating disorders? Why?

Autism Treatment Network

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Needed: 1000 Constituents to Write Congress

Dr. Jeanine Cogan, Policy Director for the Eating Disorders Coalition, writes:


Inspired by the great success of our 2010 lobby day this Spring, we launched a Letter Writing Campaign with the ambitious goal of having 1,000 constituents write their Members of Congress. The goal is simple: get your Representative and Senators to be a cosponsor of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders bill, aka the FREED Act.

In order to reach that goal, we need your help! Here are a few simple steps:

  1. Write a letter to your Representative and Senators. It’s easy—just go to http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm
  2. Tweet it: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to: http://ow.ly/1VKWQ” (107 characters)
  3. Post this as your Facebook status: “Help us eliminate eating disorders by helping to pass the FREED Act! It’s simple; go to: http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm
  4. Encourage your Facebook friends to "share" your status!
  5. Post the message on walls of appropriate Facebook groups/fan pages!
  6. Send the link http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm with a personal note to all your friends and colleagues in your email address book
  7. Ask those friends and colleagues to help spread the word
  8. Send the link http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/Letterwritingcampaign2010.htm to advocacy groups, lists, etc.
  9. Blog about our Letter Writing Campaign

Thank you for your support and dedication to helping us pass the FREED Act. Together we can make this happen—and save lives!

An Advocate's Response to Lobby Day

Lobbying with the EDC:
by Alan Duffy

Back when I was still living in Auburn, Alabama during graduate school, I used to think of how much I would like to be able to work with the EDC merging my two biggest passions in life. In addition to working as a researcher, educator, and advocate in the body image and eating disorders field, some people don't know that I completed my undergraduate degree in political science! So the opportunity to merge the two most important areas of my expertise had always been a dream. When in June 2008 I learned that I had been hired by the Student Health Center at American University in Washington, DC one of my first thoughts was "Great, now I can lobby with the EDC!"

In September 2008 I attended the EDC congressional briefing for the Mental Health Parity Act and I introduced myself to Jeanine, Kitty, Kathleen and others and said that I wanted to help in any way that I could. After attending the briefing for the launch of FREED Act in February 2009 I was excited to attend my first lobby day with EDC in April. Living in DC at the time and having no voting representative, I was asked my Jeanine to join the Virginia team and to lobby Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) who had been my representative while living in Alabama. Knowing that the congressman would be one tough nut to crack, I set about doing what is now the most important strategy I deploy in all of my lobbying and encourage all of my team members to utilize. It is vital that before ever entering a meeting with a Congressperson/Senator or their staff that you know something about them. This is obviously critical when it comes to how they stand on healthcare issues, health reform, and how they've voted on health issues in the past. Additionally, a key element to know is that in the same way as we are most concerned and passionate about eating disorders treatment, research, and prevention, most members of Congress have a "single issue" that they care about the most.

In the case of Congressman Mike Rogers, his big issue is supporting military families. Having lived in eastern Alabama for a few years, I was very aware that a large number of his constituents served in the military and that this presence was particularly felt in the area due to the close proximity of Fort Benning on the Alabama/Georgia state line, one of the largest Army bases in the country. I set about telling Congressman Rogers' staff in our meeting about the number of young women I encountered in Alabama that were "battling" an eating disorder while their husband or father was in Afghanistan or Iraq "battling" on the battle field. I also shared the scenario of men who fought through tough battles in the Middle East evading maiming or death only to return home from battle to discover that a loved one was losing their "battle" with an eating disorder. While Congressman Rogers has not signed on to the FREED Act due to his particular Republican party allegiances, his staff clearly saw and were touched by the notion of a male soldier from their constituency serving their country and coming home healthy, only to discover that the U.S. healthcare system had failed their loved one and left them losing their fight, their battle. This captured how I would prepare my team for future lobby days....

When in September 2009 I was asked to step in for an unavailable Gail Schoenbach as the New Jersey team leader, I utilized a similar strategy with the lobbyists working with me and saw similar success. Fast forward to April 2010 and I had been asked to take over as team leader of my state of residence (since July 2009), Maryland. I knew that I had big shoes to fill taking over the fort from my friend and colleague Chevese Turner, who is a tireless advocate. Having more time to prepare for the lobby day than with the NJ team, I made sure to fight for meetings with members resulting in one with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and a brief appearance from Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). I could have hoped but never imagined that we would convert three out of five meetings that day into cosponsorships.

So what was the key? Well to start, Chevese and the Ascanio family had already done incredible groundwork on previous lobby days with many members, especially Congressman Van Hollen. Second, I made sure that I knew as much as possible about each Congressperson, Senator, and event their staffers before we would enter our meetings. Third, I made sure that I got to know the team members a little before lobby day and that we spent most of our "practice time" on lobby day discussing their personal stories. With a large team, everybody can't talk in every meeting, so I was then able to strategize who would be best to deploy to talk in each meeting based on how well their story fit the member we were lobbying, and this worked very successfully.

I warned the team that I was going to employ a very different strategy in our meeting with Congresswoman Donna Edward's (D-MD) Legislative Director and that I would reveal my surprise before out meeting. I discovered that in her short first term tenure in Congress, Congresswoman Edwards has really focused on two issues: justice in Darfur; and sexual assault. Congresswoman Edwards was pivotal in the work on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and is really passionate about this. One of the other health issues I work with is sexual assault awareness and I'm all too aware of the correlations between an act of sexual abuse or sexual assault and the later onset of disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder.

When I told the team we were solely going to pitch FREED on the basis of the links between sexual violence and eating disorders, it turned out that more than half of our team members could directly relate to this on a personal level. We ended up meeting with the LD, Terra Sabag in Longworth's cafeteria due to the small size of Congresswoman Edward's office and she asked us to talk for as long as we wanted. Through our incredibly strong, supportive team, a number of members were strong enough to share the tough emotional stories of sexual violence that were connected to their eating disorder story along with all of the other stories at the table. The LD had tears in her eyes and thanked us for taking the time to meet with her and for being so strong. She promised she would talk to Congresswoman Edwards and if there were no legislative concerns, convince her to sign on. Unlike most meetings, where staff say they'll talk to the member and "try" to get them to sign on, I knew that Terra Sabag would discuss this with passion and vigor. She did and Congresswoman Edwards, along with Congressman Van Hollen, and Senator Cardin have signed on since that day. What's the moral of the story? Know the member, know their issues, and know how to relate to them. Thank you so much to all of the Maryland team who helped to make this possible!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pediatricians to Screen for Mental Health Issues!

The Wall Street Journal
* JUNE 1, 2010

By SHIRLEY S. WANG

Pediatricians should screen children for possible mental health issues at every doctor visit, according to new, extensive recommendations a national pediatrician group issued Tuesday.

These doctors also should develop a network of mental-health professionals in the community to whom they can send patients if they suspect a child needs further evaluation, according to the task force on mental health convened by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations were made in a series of reports published in a supplement to the journal Pediatrics.

In recent years, pediatricians and mental health professionals have been calling for increased attention to mental health in primary-care settings because of growing rates of disorders in children such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and anxiety.

At the same time, there is a shortage of child mental-health experts, particularly psychiatrists. While 21% of U.S. children and adolescents have a diagnosable mental illness, only one-fifth of that group receives treatment, according to the academy.

"You can't be in community practice and not see kids who come in regularly with depression, anxiety, etc.," says James Perrin, a task force member and pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School. "You can't say, 'Not my problem.'"

The new recommendations are more extensive and detailed than previous ones. In 2009, the pediatricians group called for more training and more attention to mental health concerns, and fewer barriers to collaborating with mental-health specialists. Now, it is recommending that pediatricians systematically ask the parent or child at every visit about how the child is getting along with other kids their age and whether they are happy.

In addition, at certain critical ages where disorders may become noticeable—such as 18 months and 2 years for autism, a condition characterized by social impairment and language problems—pediatricians should go through a more-detailed checklist of symptoms designed to give them a sense of whether "I need to be more or less worried about this child," Dr. Perrin says.

Increasing evidence suggests children fare better if they receive early intervention for behavioral and mental-health problems. And if parents have regular conversations with pediatricians about mental health from the time their children are young, they may feel more comfortable bringing up future concerns, making the pediatricians' office "user-friendly for kids' mental health issues," Dr. Perrin says.

David Fassler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Burlington, Vt., and treasurer at the American Psychiatric Association, who wasn't involved in the new recommendations, calls the report "helpful and comprehensive." Implementation will be a challenge, he says. Doctors' time with patients is limited, and some pediatricians don't have much mental-health expertise.

The pediatrics academy plans to add screening measures to their website to help pediatricians with evaluation. "If we really want pediatricians to focus more time and attention on the mental-health needs of children and adolescents, we need to ensure that they have appropriate training, adequate reimbursement and timely access to consultation and ongoing treatment for their patients," Dr. Fassler said in an email.

Alain LeGuillou, a private-practice pediatrician in Larchmont, N.Y., says he thinks it's important and feasible to identify which children need further evaluation for mental-health concerns. He aims to refer them to specialists as soon as possible and is expanding his network with mental-health professionals in the community. "We don't have to wait to have a perfect diagnosis," said Dr. LeGuillou, who has been a pediatrician for 15 years. "As soon as we see a milestone that's off, a behavior that's changing or some parenting that's inappropriate, then I tend to refer quickly."