There’s a youth mental health crisis sweeping our country – and northern Ohio.
Access to high-quality, individualized mental health care is a major obstacle for children and their families. So are long wait times.
At Akron Children’s Hospital, we are strategically responding to these challenges, taking action to remove barriers to care – and filling the gaps where care is lacking and continued philanthropic support is needed. Support from our community of donors is making our efforts possible.
“We highly value our relationships with our donors,” said Doug Straight, clinical operations director, psychiatry and psychology at Akron Children’s. “Their support helps us bring mental health services and programming to even more children in our service area. They become part of our continuum of care to ensure that youth have access to the right services at the right time.”
Addressing an urgent need
The new challenges that today’s young people face are particularly hard to navigate. From the pressures of social media to the life-changing impact of a global pandemic, these obstacles can have a devastating effect on youth mental health.
In 2021, the team at the Lois and John Orr Family Behavioral Health Center at Akron Children’s served nearly 10,000 patients through more than 49,000 unique visits, with the need for care growing by more than 16% from the prior year. It’s why mental health expansion is a critical focus for our hospital.
Expanding through donor support
The center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional or behavioral disorders affecting children, teens and their families. Our services include child and adolescent psychiatry, behavioral medicine, outpatient individual and family therapy, clinical consultation and liaison, intensive day treatment programming, addiction treatment and emergency department behavioral health crisis services.
And donor support has been integral to the expansion of these services.
We opened the doors to Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology, Boardman in 2019. Support for the facility and its services came from the Mahoning Valley community, including gifts from Christopher Thompson and his family, Hine Memorial Fund, the James and Coralie Centofanti Charitable Foundation, Peg’s Foundation and Kikel Charitable Foundation. Since its opening, we’ve helped 8,226 patients through 25,795 visits.
While our hospital actively recruits behavioral health providers, hiring qualified practitioners remains a challenge. In response to this urgent need, The J.M. Smucker Co. generously funded scholarships in 2022 to help our nurses get the necessary training to become psychiatric-mental health nurses. Through this $215,000 gift, we will be able to add more knowledgeable practitioners and increase the number of children we can treat.
Donor contributions also are supporting the construction of new mental health care facilities in Stark and Richland counties. Each will begin providing services in 2023. These new locations will provide increased access to psychiatric services, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, outpatient psychological therapy and mental health therapy closer to home in these regions.