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Akron Children’s expands behavioral health services in Canton

01-27-2022 (Akron, Ohio )

Akron Children's Hospital will open a pediatric behavioral health center in Canton in 2023, the second location in the hospital system's plan to expand child and adolescent behavioral health services throughout the region. 

Canton City Council approved the transfer of the city-owned Cirelli Building, 630 30th St. NW, to the Canton Community Improvement Corporation and ultimately the A. Altman Company, which will invest $2.9 million into the building. Akron Children’s will enter into a long-term lease agreement for use of the space for outpatient behavioral health services for children and teens ages 5-18.


According to a 2021 U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory, Protecting Youth Mental Health, “even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 having a reported mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral health disorder.” The report cites significant increases in adolescent visits to ERs for depression and anxiety, as well as youth suicide since 2007. The report also notes that of the nearly 8 million children with a treatable mental health disorder, about half did not receive adequate treatment.

“Our goal in bringing this facility to Stark County is not to compete with locally-available resources, but instead to collaborate with existing providers in the county, plugging gaps in available services,” said Dr. Steven Jewell, the Lois C. Orr Endowed Chair of the Division of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology at Akron Children’s. “Given the acute shortage of youth behavioral health professionals throughout the region and beyond, we plan to staff the facility with child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and mental health therapists, enhancing access to those highly specialized services locally. We will also provide intensive services closer to home for Stark County adolescents struggling with severe emotional distress that puts them at risk for self-harm, with the goal of avoiding hospitalization or allowing a quicker and safer transition back to services close to home after a hospital stay.”

Akron Children’s opened the first of the planned pediatric behavioral health centers on its Mahoning Valley campus in 2019, and is considering other locations in its service area. Locations will be based on community needs, especially as Akron Children’s expands its population-health focused Akron Children’s Health Collaborative, which aims to be proactive in identifying children’s health care needs to provide early intervention and care coordination.

In-demand programs like Akron Children’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) will be offered in Canton.

IOP is an intensive, multi-disciplinary group therapy program for 12 to 18 year old patients, offered three evenings a week for three to four weeks.

PHP is designed to help teens develop healthy coping skills and stabilize their mental health status. The program includes family therapy, goal setting and an opportunity to keep up with schoolwork. Teens spend all day in the program and are home in time for dinner. They typically participate in the program for two weeks or more. It can be used as a “step down” program after discharge from Akron Children’s 24-bed inpatient behavioral health unit or used as an intervention to prevent the need for hospitalization.

Providers at the Canton location will be able to prescribe and manage medicines for conditions like ADHD, depression and anxiety.

The location will also offer pediatric psychologists who can offer support to children living with chronic illnesses like diabetes and cystic fibrosis.

“We appreciate the support of the City of Canton bringing these services to their community,” said Dr. Jewell. “Having care like this close to home can make all the difference for many families.”

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