One out of five children suffers from a mental health condition. That’s more than 150,000 children in Orange County alone. Chances are someone you know, or even someone in your family, is affected. The stories of courageous children battling cancer, diabetes and asthma are familiar, yet mental illness is a crisis often shrouded in social stigma and misconceptions.
CHOC Children’s vision for a mental health system of care recognizes and addresses the unmistakable link between mental and physical health. Without early identification and treatment, children who are anxious, depressed, withdrawn, experiencing hallucinations, harming family members and pets, or injuring themselves are unlikely to escape long-term impacts on their health and well-being.
A reliable mental health system of care has the potential to turn lives around—providing services that reach children while the developing brain still has the greatest potential to respond. Further, treating children early can also have a major effect on the adult mental health crisis.
Just like adults, kids and teens can have mental health conditions. And just like adults, their conditions are often brushed aside or shrouded in stigma. By talking about it, you can increase awareness of the services that are needed and help children heal. Get tips on how to talk to adults and kids about mental health.
CHOC is spearheading a countywide initiative to break the stigma surrounding pediatric mental illness and expand much-needed services. Half of children with symptoms of mental health disorders have conditions that cause significant impairment in daily life. In Orange County, 20 percent of youth reported needing help for mental health problems, while less than a third actually received that help.
Mental Health Inpatient Center
Designed for patients ages 3 to 17, it is the only center in Orange County that can accommodate children younger than 12. The 18-bed Center opened in April 2018. The majority of funding is from private sources.
ASPIRE® Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s
This intervention (four afternoons/evenings per week for eight weeks) is intended to prevent psychiatric hospitalization and re-admission in high school teens ages 13-18. CHOC opened the IOP in early 2018.
Mental health screenings in primary care settings and the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital
One-third of all visits to pediatricians are solely for psychological reasons. To support immediate assessment and intervention in primary care, CHOC is providing depression screenings in its own clinics and promoting embedded mental health care in pediatric practices. We also provide depression screenings in the CHOC emergency department.
Pediatric mental health training program
Started in early 2017, this three-year effort provides pediatric mental health training for pediatricians and other community health care providers, as well as school personnel and therapists. At the same time, CHOC is also working to build a workforce capable of treating children and teens at the highest risk of developing mental health problems – those with serious or chronic physical health challenges.
CHOC co-occurring clinic
In its second year of operation, this unique, publicly-funded outpatient program treats children and teens who have mental health challenges in addition to serious or chronic physical illnesses or disabilities.
Mental health triage at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital
Implemented in fall 2016 with public and private funds, the innovative family-based crisis intervention model helps families address mental health crises and is already reducing psychiatric hospitalizations (25 percent reduction) and time spent in the emergency department (17 percent reduction).
Expanded mental health screenings and access to care in CHOC specialty clinics
CHOC is working to increase access to mental health resources and treatment for children with chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, eating disorders and diabetes. CHOC is also seeking support to assist patients in its new clinic for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
Early childhood mental health initiative
This community partnership aims to reduce behavior-related expulsions from child care and preschool settings. Consultants will help providers address difficult behaviors, and help parents access care for young children who may exhibit early signs of a mental health condition. Partners include CHOC, Children’s Home Society, Orange County Department of Education, Orange County Health Care Agency, Children and Families Commission of Orange County, California State University, Fullerton, Comfort Connections Family Resource Center at Regional Center, Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children, and The Olin Group. Phase 1 begins in late spring 2018.
Faith community partnerships
Because families often seek help from pastors first, CHOC and faith community partners will provide basic pediatric mental health information and educational opportunities suitable for any congregation through a privately-funded project called LEAP of Faith.
CHOC offers teenagers experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition a new source of a hope in a validating, supportive environment staffed by experts in adolescent mental health. The ASPIRE® (After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education) Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s brings solutions to teens and their families who show moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems.
Participants ages 13 to 18 attend after-school programming for three hours a day, four days a week in sessions that span eight weeks total. Get more information about the CHOC ASPIRE® Intensive Outpatient Program.