Psychiatrist Stephen Pannel, DO, now seeing patients
Chief Medical Officer oversees child & adolescent services
Dr. Stephen Pannel, Chief Medical Officer for Right Track Medical Group, is stepping into a more active role with the mental-health practice.
Pannel, who completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry, has begun seeing patients at Right Track Medical Group clinics. His focus also includes overseeing medical and therapy staff who work with children and teens at the practice.
Pannel is board certified in adult psychiatry and addiction medicine, and is board eligible in child and adolescent psychiatry. A graduate of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, he completed his training at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Pannel focused on child and adolescent psychiatry during his fellowship at UAB. The choice to work with kids and teens was driven by the potential to make an impact on young lives, he said.
“Success in mental-health treatment for young people translates into huge benefits for the patient and their family,” Pannel said. “You can actually undo what would otherwise become a trajectory of lifelong illness. Through early intervention, you can put mental illness into remission, where patients may not have to deal with mental-health problems as an adult.”
“Through early intervention, you can put mental illness into remission.”
–Dr. Stephen Pannel
Unfortunately, he said, social stigma and a lack of awareness about the nature of mental healthcare often delay parents from seeking care.
“We all take our children to the pediatric clinic, and no one thinks anything about it,” he said. “At Right Track Medical Group, we understand that there can still be a lot of fear and embarrassment associated with mental-health treatment, which is why patient privacy is central to everything we do.”
As a physician, Pannel approaches mental-health needs by taking into account each patient’s unique combination of biological, psychological and social factors.
Right Track Medical Group’s model of outpatient care starts with a same-day or next-day assessment by a licensed mental-health professional. From that initial meeting comes a tailored treatment plan for focused outpatient care over several weeks or months. The plan may include medication management or therapy sessions, or often a combination of both.
Among children and teens, common mental-health needs include treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder.
In addition to his role at Right Track Medical Group, Pannel also serves as medical director at Oxford Treatment Center, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility. His continued work in addiction treatment offers a frequent reminder of the need for early intervention in mental health: An estimated 45 percent of people with substance use disorders also have a mental illness.
“We know that drugs and alcohol become the way many people cope with anxiety, depression and other mental-health issues,” he said. “If we can intervene in a young person’s life while their mental-health needs are still relatively mild, it can mean avoiding serious problems like addiction and truly shaping a different, healthy future.”
Pannel is a father of three children. His wife, psychiatrist Dr. Katherine Pannel, serves as medical director for Right Track Medical Group.