The REsource for Advancing Children's Health (REACH) Institute, first incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2006, was formally launched in July, 2007 for the purpose of improving the emotional and behavioral health of children by developing tools and techniques for renewing the practices of professionals, parents and others entrusted with their care.

Founded by Peter S. Jensen, M.D., REACH enhances the relevance of mental health treatments by shortening the time it takes to put today’s scientific advances to work for our nation’s youth.

While serving as the Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dr. Peter S. Jensen saw that despite remarkable advances in the scientific knowledge of brain development, mental health problems and their treatments, healthcare professionals were not consistently or effectively using this knowledge to diagnose and treat common childhood mental disorders. More unsettling was that the widening gap between scientific knowledge and its application to help children and adolescents.

Today, unmet mental health needs are as high as they were 20 years ago. Nearly, 75% of children still lack critical mental health care, with minority youth having the highest unmet need. Contributing to this disturbing lack of care are:

  • Schools ill-equipped to identify and manage these problems
  • Insufficient training and support for most pediatricians, family doctors, and other primary care health providers
  • Parental apprehension of blame for their child’s emotional and/or behavioral problems
  • Managed care “gate keeping” restrictions
  • Limitations on insurance coverage for mental health treatment

After leaving NIMH in 2000, Dr. Jensen came to Columbia University to serve as the Founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health (CACMH), with the goal of developing the necessary methods for closing the gap between science and practice. While at Columbia, he developed the core methods REACH uses today.

The central idea is to bring together leading scientists, mental health experts, agencies, primary care providers, parents and schools, to identify best available scientific findings that could to help children. This is followed by the implementation, dissemination and evaluation of these methods -- "putting science to work."

The need for an effective and independent resource dedicated solely to this purpose led to the formation of the REACH.