Atlanta Children’s Health Care announces a major initiative to address the childhood mental health crisis

ATLANTA – (COMMERCIAL LINE) – Mental and behavioral health problems among children have steadily increased in recent years. One proof point is that visits to Children’s Healthcare Atlanta’s emergency wards since 2015 have more than doubled, now exceeding 4,000 visits per year with an average patient age of nine. The number continues to grow significantly, largely due to COVID-19.

It is a crisis that requires focused attention and a major mobilization of resources and strategic approaches to what have proved to be complex transgenerational public health concerns.

“This is a huge challenge against which we are proud to hold a leadership position and are determined in our determination to make meaningful and positive change,” said Donna Hyland, president and chief executive officer of Children’s. “We hope that in addition to improving the standard of behavioral and mental health of young people in the Southeast, there is an opportunity to create an operational blueprint that our colleagues across the nation can benefit from. In turn, we hope to learn from their successes and expand our best practices. ”

In response, Children’s announced today that it has fulfilled three strategic pillars of its plan to tackle the crisis head-on:

  • Funded through an endowment of over $ 550 million dedicated to providing meaningful and ongoing support to perpetuate a long-term care program for children in need,

  • Bringing together the best management team led by nationally acclaimed child psychiatrist John Constantino, MD, head of behavioral and mental health, who joined Children’s in August,

  • New facilities on a campus that will host growth opportunities.

With its initial goals met, Children’s is launching a comprehensive program that will balance prevention, early intervention and outpatient care based on the best available clinical research tailored to each child’s needs.

“In combining these services with those available in the community, the goal is to establish a comprehensive continuum of care to mitigate risks and support the mind, brain and behavioral development in childhood,” said Constantino. . “Through appropriate funding, personnel and facilities, and building on advances in telemedicine, our goal is to achieve seamless integration with providers into the nation’s behavioral health ecosystem.”

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Zalik Behavioral and Mental Health Center will serve as the foundation for the program. It will be located on a 10-acre plot of land with two office buildings adjacent to the North Druid Hills campus and will bear the surnames of benefactors David and Helen Zalik. The new facilities will serve as a venue for active collaboration with community partners, research, teaching and family education.

“Today’s announcement underscores our commitment to building a pediatric behavioral and mental health ecosystem that improves outcomes, reduces stigma and improves access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” Hyland added.

Atlanta children’s health care information

As the only independent pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the trusted leader in childcare. The nonprofit’s mission is to make children better today and healthier tomorrow through more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs, high-level healthcare professionals, and cutting-edge research and technology. Children’s is one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, handling more than one million patient visits per year at three hospitals, the Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, emergency care centers, and neighborhood locations . Consistently ranked among the best children’s hospitals by US News & World Report, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has impacted the lives of children in Georgia, the United States, and around the world for over 100 years thanks to generous community support.

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