(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced the Pediatric Behavioral Health Initiative, an $84 million investment, to increase access to care and expand capacity across the state so kids and their families can get services and supports for their behavioral health needs in or near their communities.
“The need to increase access to behavioral health care has been growing nationwide for years. I am pleased that, here in Ohio, we place an emphasis on expanding treatment capacity and increasing accessibility for children and their families,” said Governor DeWine. “When children are mentally, behaviorally, and physically stable and healthy, they are more likely to do better in school, avoid potentially risky behaviors, and make sounder decisions, putting them on paths that will help them reach their full potential.”
This initiative uses dedicated ARPA investments to expand infrastructure and strengthen local partnerships so Ohio kids can get the specialty care they need. The funding was allocated in HB 168, sponsored by Rep. Mark Frazier and Rep Mike Loychick, passed by the General Assembly last year. It will expand inpatient and outpatient behavioral health supports regionally. Recipients include:
- $7 million: Akron Children’s Hospital to help create regional behavioral health centers to provide psychiatric services, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient therapy. This project will increase access to behavioral health services in local communities and provide opportunities to partner with community agencies to fill gaps in services.
- $10 million: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to help fund their new inpatient facility at the College Hill Campus that will feature private rooms for all their patients, a new neurobehavioral partial hospitalization program, along with a severe behavioral day treatment program, dedicated areas for therapy, and additional treatment space.
- $25 million: Dayton Children’s Hospital to help build a new mental health building that would double inpatient treatment capacity, expand the partial hospitalization program, increase access to psychology services, and add a bridge service to ensure smooth transitions for children and their families as they transition from one level of care to another.
- $17 million: ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital to renovate existing space in their inpatient pediatric psychiatry unit, establish an ambulatory outpatient building with comprehensive resources to better serve families, and work with local partners to develop services and programs to meet the community’s needs.
- $15 million: University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s to renovate and expand their inpatient Children Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, creating sensory-friendly spaces, and leveraging technology to better accommodate patients.
- $6.45 million: Appalachian Children’s Coalition: Integrated Services for Behavioral Health to expand the Youth and Family Wellness Center in Chillicothe, strengthening southeast Ohio’s Behavioral Health System of Care and reducing the need for families to travel long distances to receive specialized care. Integrated Services also expects to use the funding to help renovate the Mary Hill Center for Youth building in Nelsonville, Ohio, and fund family-friendly recovery housing.
- $3.55 million: Appalachian Children’s Coalition: Hopewell Health Centers to renovate space in local schools in southeast Ohio to house fully integrated health centers to help meet the primary care, behavioral health, and therapeutic needs for the schools. In addition, funds will be used to renovate buildings for Hopewell Health Centers REACH Youth Partial Hospitalization Program.
Nationally, each year, one in five children experience a mental health condition. According to the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association, there are currently 10 child psychiatrists per 100,000 kids and teens; however, it is estimated that nationally we need 47 child psychiatrists per 100,000. The need is growing. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of children hospitalized for a mental health reason increased 163% nationally.
In Dayton, where Governor DeWine joined Dayton Children’s Hospital President and CEO Debbie Feldman to announce their Pediatric Behavioral Health Initiative Project, Feldman explained that their mental and behavioral health inpatient unit opened in July 2019 with 24 beds.
By 2029, it is expected the hospital will need 45-50 inpatient beds to meet the need. In February, 178 kids stayed in regular medical rooms at Dayton Children’s, waiting for a bed in the behavioral health unit.
The Pediatric Behavioral Health Initiative is part of a larger commitment that Governor DeWine has made to increasing access to mental health services in our state. Last week, Governor DeWine announced a Wellness Worker Initiative intended to cover many of the costs for students in behavioral health-care fields so they can complete their studies more quickly and enter the workforce to meet the growing need. Many efforts are targeted specifically at youth. Governor DeWine launched the Student Wellness and Success Funds to provide schools with wraparound resources to better address the social and emotional needs of students. To date, Student Wellness and Success funding has helped pay for more than 6,600 wellness programs, including more than 1,300 focused solely on mental health.