Addressing the youth mental health crisis
Across the nation, one in five children is living with a mental health disorder. Less than 50% of these children will ever receive the appropriate treatment. Imagine if only half of the children who broke a bone this year were treated. If children with terminal diseases waited weeks or months to be admitted to intensive care.
Mental health is health. It is fundamental to happy, healthy futures for our kids. And, like physical illnesses, mental health challenges only grow more severe if left untreated. But across the country, mental health is not resourced, staffed, studied, or coordinated in the same ways as physical illnesses. Our system is full of gaps that fragment, delay, and confuse care.
Under the pressure of a global pandemic, these challenges have taken on historic urgency. For the first time, Colorado is in a state of medical emergency for youth mental health.
As a senior hospital leader described during public testimony: “If my son experiences a mental health crisis in the middle of the night, there is no one to call. I will drive to the emergency department and wait for him to be assessed. Sometimes, as many as 15 to 40 other families facing similar crises will also be waiting. If my son requires more intensive care than can be delivered at home, we will wait in the emergency department for an inpatient bed to open…anywhere in Colorado. This could take days. When a bed becomes available, my son will receive treatment. If he needs additional resources—step-down care at a residential facility, for example—he might need to travel to another state just to get into a program.”
Kids in our community cannot wait for better mental health care
Is a leading cause of death for Colorado kids, starting at age 10
Increase in adolescent suicide attempts from 2020 to 2021. Self-harm or suicide attempts are among the top reasons that patients seek mental health care in our emergency departments.
Kids and teens in Colorado have diagnosable mental health conditions. Only 22% receive professional care.
For young people like 16-year-old Luthien, who nearly lost her life to anxiety and depression
Transforming the standard of care to save lives
It is time—it is past time—to realize a better state of care for our children. Together, we can advance a coordinated system of mental health care, grounded in collaboration and partnership. One that provides all children high-quality, evidence-based, and youth- and family-centered care. Imagine:
- Accessible and affordable care, from the earliest point of prevention to the most intensive crisis
- Supportive, specially built environments, co-designed with families for the challenges of mental health
- Access to experts, across every setting, who are trained to address the specific needs of mental health
- Research that explores prevention, therapeutic intervention, and crisis stabilization
- Seamless care across the system
A strong foundation for the work ahead
With funding from philanthropic partners, Children’s Colorado has spent the past five years upgrading to safer facilities, building partnerships, and expanding its core services. The generosity of our donors has:
- Fueled major capital improvements. Philanthropists expanded beds and upgraded facilities across the Children’s Colorado system to increase capacity and create better care environments. Crowning accomplishments included the renovation of the Gary Pavilion, which enriched and expanded capacity for acute care, and the addition of a specially designed behavioral health unit in the Colorado Springs Emergency Department.
- Convened new partnerships, including Partners for Children’s Mental Health. This cross-system resource has significantly improved the state’s ability to collaborate, share knowledge, and convene with key stakeholders for Colorado’s new Behavioral Health Administration.
- Provided key support for successful senior investigators and promising junior investigators, and seeded early research projects—such as developing a bipolar prediction model, embedding executive function tools in school settings, and transforming treatment in our partial hospitalization program.
- Expanded core services to meet growing needs, including increased inpatient discharges (+45%), outpatient visits (+39%), and partial hospitalization services (+49%) from 2015 to 2021.
Taking Colorado from a state of emergency to a new state of care
Children’s Colorado is committed to building a better mental health future for kids, and your generosity helps fill a critical funding gap as the number of kids who are experiencing significant mental health episodes remains at a crisis level.
With the vision brought by Dr. Ron-Li Liaw, inaugural Mental Health-in-Chief, the collective action of Colorado’s entire mental health ecosystem, and targeted investments by big-picture philanthropists, we are positioned to raise the standard of mental health care in unprecedented ways.
Your partnership supports urgent needs and the opportunity for long-term impact through investment in four key areas:
Increase accessible, purpose-built care environments across the continuum
Integrate best-in-class research into clinical practice
Invest in family support, engagement, and advocacy programs
Join us in fighting for our kids’ mental health
The journey to transform mental health care demands continued learning, innovation, and reinvestment. It is our collective strength that will achieve a better state of care. Partner with us to address the youth mental health crisis and create a better mental health future for children. Because together, we can not only changed the status quo, we can change lives.Give Now Contact Us to Learn More
You make a difference for kids and teens facing mental health challenges
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Mental Health Resources
You are not alone. Check out expert advice and resources from Children’s Hospital Colorado for concerned parents, caregivers and community members looking to help Colorado kids.Resources for Your Mental Health Journey