Harvard Mental Health Letter

Treating preschoolers with psychiatric disorders

Experts develop treatment algorithms for nine disorders.

In 2000, in an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Coyle warned that psychiatrists were prescribing medications to children as a quick fix, rather than offering the type of multidisciplinary therapy that improves outcomes. The same year, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recommended that guidelines be developed for drug treatment of preschoolers with psychiatric disorders.

As a first step in that direction, a working group of experts from 12 medical schools and institutions, convened by the AACAP, has published treatment algorithms for nine mental health conditions diagnosed in young children.

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