When I saw the announcement from CHOC Children’s about their plans to address pediatric mental health issues by offering extensive services to children, it really touched my heart. Community leaders and executives from CHOC Children’s recently announced a transformative initiative to ensure children and adolescents with mental illness receive the health care services and support they currently lack in Orange County’s fragmented system of care. As a teacher in Orange County, I have seen SO many children, over the years, in need of these kinds of services, but very limited resources available for their families to turn to. Now I feel like there will be more hope for them.
Did you know that 1 in 5 children experience a diagnosable mental health condition during childhood? There are about 150,000 children in Orange County alone who fall into this group and yet, there are no psychiatric inpatient beds for patients under 12 years in Orange County. Due to the absence of designated space to treat young patients, sometimes children with serious mental health episodes remain in the emergency department for days at a time. In addition, there aren’t enough inpatient psychiatric beds for adolescents either, with many needing to be hospitalized outside of Orange County.
There’s a stigma about mental illness and people usually associate it mostly with adults and perhaps young adults or teens, but rarely do they think of it as something younger children need help and care with. Community leaders and executives from CHOC Children’s recently announced a transformative initiative to ensure children and adolescents with mental illness receive the health care services and support they currently lack in Orange County’s fragmented system of care.
Children’s advocate Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, managing partner, C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, donated a $5 million lead gift to help establish CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center. The new center will provide a safe, nurturing place for children ages 3 to 18 to receive care for mental health conditions. It will also provide specialty programming for children ages 11 and younger.
The new CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center will be located on the third floor of CHOC’s Research Building and will feature:
- 18 beds in a secure, healing environment
- Outdoor area for recreation
- Specially trained pediatric staff
Construction is expected to begin by fall 2015 and finish in late 2017. CHOC has launched a fundraising campaign to raise $11 million for inpatient capital and startup costs, and $16 million to endow the program.
Recognizing the urgency to help meet the community’s need, last fall CHOC and Rick and Kay Warren, co-founders of Saddleback Church formed a taskforce — led by Dr. Maria Minon, CHOC chief medical officer, and Dr. Heather Huszti, CHOC chief psychologist, and comprised of community leaders, educators and faith-based advisors — to begin discussing a comprehensive pediatric system of care for patients with mental illness.
CHOC’s support of the pediatric system of care includes:
- expanding mental health services this year for CHOC patients being treated for serious/chronic illnesses (these children are more likely to have mental health problems, such as depression and severe anxiety, than their healthier peers)
- opening an intensive outpatient program in 2016 to keep struggling children out of the hospital and assist those who have been released
- expanding CHOC’s outpatient eating disorders program by 2016;
and continuing to facilitate and work on multiple county-wide projects with the task force.
CHOC is raising additional funds for outpatient mental health services. To learn more about CHOC’s mental health campaign and how YOU can help support it, click here.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own. Photo credits: CHOC