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Akron Children’s is set to open pediatric behavioral health center in Canton

07-17-2023 (Akron, Ohio)

In response to increasing need, Akron Children’s is set to open its doors tomorrow to a new stand-alone facility dedicated to pediatric behavioral health in Canton.

Located at 626 30th St. NW, the one-story, 12,000 square-foot Akron Children’s Behavioral Health, Canton, will bring to the community most of the behavioral health programs available at the hospital’s main campus in downtown Akron, including outpatient therapy, medical management, the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), and the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

The staff – pediatric psychologists and psychiatrists, mental health therapists, advanced practice providers, nurses and support staff - will be able to care for children, teens and young adults with conditions such as anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and other emotional and behavioral health concerns.

The first of Akron Children’s regional behavioral health centers opened in Boardman, Ohio in late 2019 and a third is set to up in Mansfield.

“We know how important these services are to patient families and this regional strategy is to bring them closer to home,” said Dr. Eva Szigethy, director of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology and the Lois C. Orr Endowed Chair in Pediatric Psychiatry at Akron Children’s. “The demand has increased both in our regions and nationally. It is critical for us to tackle problems like anxiety and depression in general and to provide immediate helpful services for families who have a child in a behavioral health crisis. Ultimately, our goal is to prevent the need for higher acuity care by early behavioral health screening and intervention in both pediatric offices and in behavioral centers like this one."

Teens requiring in-patient hospitalization for a behavioral health concerns will still come to Akron, but programs like PHP and IOP are designed to both deter the crises that lead to ER visits and hospitalization and also provide “step-down” support for those after discharge and still adjusting to their transition back to home and school.

PHP is an intensive psychiatric service for youth 12 to 18 years that uses cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidence-based programming to help stabilize participants’ mental status and teach coping skills. Set in an outpatient setting, PHP is a full day – up to 10-day - commitment that includes psychiatric assessments and employs a variety of modalities such individual, family and group therapy, psychotherapy, art and music therapy, yoga, physical and spiritual wellness and goal setting. Time is set aside for schoolwork and a teacher/school liaison is on site.

IOP is offered after school, 3 hours a day, 3 days a week and is a good choice for teens whose symptoms are severe enough to warrant additional services beyond traditional outpatient therapy. It focuses on short-term stabilization to help participants improve functioning, develop healthy coping skills and stabilize mood. It can be a step-down for those completing PHP who still need support and a bridge to outpatient therapy.

“We are excited to collaborate with other providers in the community, fill any gaps in services and become part of the overall network of care,” said Dr. Szigethy. “In meeting with local mental health boards and providers, we’ve learned of their concerns and are responding to particular needs for psychiatric care and medication management.”

In addition, Akron Children’s offers behavioral health services at all of its Stark County pediatric primary care offices and the Akron Children’s Health Center, North Canton.

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health in response to rising rates of childhood mental health concerns, including suicide, a leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24.

In surveying parents and other community members throughout the region as part of its 5th Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), published in December, Akron Children’s learned behavioral health is a top concern. Expanding access to this care, including strengthening education, training, and workforce development, is now a strategic priority for the hospital.  

“The Timken Foundation and the Hoover Foundation have been very generous in making this project happen in Canton,” said Shelly Brown, executive director of the Akron Children’s Foundation. “In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the state was critical. We appreciate all the donors and government officials who recognize the importance of this work and help expand access to these much-needed services.”

Parents are encouraged to discuss concerns with their child’s pediatrician to see if referrals are appropriate. Self-referrals are also welcome by calling 330-543-5015.

This new facility is not a crisis center. If a child is in a mental or behavioral health crisis, they should be brought to the ER in Akron or the situation can be assessed 24/7 by calling the hospital’s Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) at 330-543-7472.



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