Coinciding with Mental Illness Awareness Week, Children’s Minnesota has announced plans to open an inpatient mental health center at its St. Paul hospital in the latter half of 2022.
Annually, the center is expected to care for more than 1,000 children and adolescents, meeting the urgent mental health needs of the most vulnerable kids in Minnesota and the region.
The inpatient unit will be the first in the east metro to serve kids under 12 years old, and one of few in the state to admit all kids, even those with other complex medical conditions.
“During a week to raise awareness about mental illness, it’s heartbreaking to continue seeing a rising demand for mental health services among our youth, with many children and teens spending days in emergency rooms waiting for a psychiatric bed to open up,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota.
“As the kid experts, it’s our duty at Children’s Minnesota to address this crisis and support families with the full spectrum of pediatric resources they need,” added Dr. Gorelick.
“The stress and isolation caused by the pandemic has made the need for mental health care greater than ever,” said Governor Tim Walz. “We’re committed to expanding access to that care for our kids, and I applaud Children’s Minnesota for their commitment to ensuring all our children have somewhere to turn for help.”
The announcement comes on the heels of other large investments in mental health services by Children’s Minnesota:
This summer, Children’s Minnesota opened a mental health day program for teens at its specialty center at Lakeville. The outpatient program allows teens to receive intensive mental health care during the day and return home with their families on evenings and weekends.
Children’s Minnesota has also expanded virtual mental health care and integrated behavioral health across its primary care clinics.
“As we continue rebuilding from the challenges of the past 20 months, expanding access to mental health support, services and resources is vital,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “This new center will provide responsive care from mental health professionals who are committed to supporting children in our community.”
“Children and youth are struggling with their mental health and we do not have the resources to meet their needs. Stories of boarding in emergency rooms are frequent and the need for more intensive services is growing,” said Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness). “NAMI Minnesota is pleased that Children’s Minnesota is going to add inpatient psychiatric beds and invest in much-needed services for Minnesota’s children and youth.”
The new inpatient mental health center at the Children’s Minnesota St. Paul hospital is part of a vision to create a mental health hub on that campus, which already houses many outpatient mental health services, including Developmental Pediatrics, the Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Psychiatry, Psychology, Neuropsychology, Integrated Behavior Health and more.
The center will provide a healing environment, specifically designed for kids and youth and will include 22 large private rooms that will allow parents to stay overnight with their children. The design is focused on safe access to the outdoors, natural light, and calming sensory-friendly spaces.
A multi-disciplinary care team, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, nurses, and expressive arts therapists will provide individualized treatment tailored to meet each child’s needs.
Children’s Minnesota, an independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, is the seventh-largest pediatric health system in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. Children’s Minnesota serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, nine primary care clinics, multiple specialty clinics, and seven rehabilitation sites.
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—Information provided by Children’s Minnesota.