Tami Benton, Psychiatrist-in-Chief
Leader, Advocate, Researcher, Physician
Dr. Tami D. Benton, MD, has dedicated her career to helping children, especially those in underserved communities, overcome their mental health challenges.
As Psychiatrist-in-Chief Chair and Executive Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she has been a national spokesperson, actively advocating for expanded access to behavioral and mental healthcare, and is the architect of CHOP’s ambitious growth plan that will allow the department to serve more children and youth.
Dr. Benton has long promoted the theme that the best way to address behavioral and mental health problems is to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. Early diagnosis and treatment provided in the child’s primary care office, can help prevent more severe and more difficult-to-treat mental health issues later on. Dr. Benton’s multilayered expansion plan touches on all levels of care — from prevention and early intervention to intensive outpatient services and hospitalization.
Dr. Benton earned her BA in biology from Oberlin and her medical degree from the Ohio State University College of Medicine. Thereafter, she trained at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, in Pediatrics, Adult Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Benton also trained in Psychosomatic Medicine. She came to CHOP in 1998 and, after serving in a number of critical roles including Director of Inpatient Services, Director of Residency Training and Director of Clinical Services, was named Chief in 2010. She is also holder of the Frederick H. Allen Endowed Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Suicide prevention has been a key item on her agenda. Dr. Benton participated in a documentary on suicide prevention in 2017 and was recognized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Greater Philadelphia Chapter, with its Community Impact Award for her outstanding contributions in suicide prevention and awareness made to the Greater Philadelphia Region. She also earned the organization’s Community Outreach Award in 2020. She leads the Child and Adolescent Mood program and is also director of the Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Research Center at CHOP.
In 2020, she was awarded the Humanitarian Award by the Society of Biological Psychiatry. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated service and advocacy for mental illness.
In 2021, Dr. Benton was nominated by her peers and elected President-elect of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and will lead the Academy from 2023 to 2025.
When the U.S. Senate held a hearing on the barriers children and youth face access behavioral and mental healthcare, Dr. Benton was called to testify. She outlined the youth mental health crisis, described how it was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and offered ways Congress could help.
Dr. Benton discusses the impact of social media on young people’s mental health — both positives and negatives — plus shares her optimism for the future of child and adolescent mental and behavioral healthcare during a podcast from the Optimism Institute. Listen to the podcast.
As a leader, advocate, researcher and physician, Dr. Benton continues to find ways to help eliminate barriers to accessing mental health care, so that children and their families can receive the right level of care at the right place and at the right time.