One in five children between the ages of 3 and 17 has a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral health disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and access to behavioral health care in Florida ranks 33rd in the nation.
The Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation Guild is stepping up to help. The volunteer organization, which has supported the hospital since 1949, committed to raise $1 million over the next four years to support the Center for Behavioral Health at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.
“Early identification and support for children and families at risk for mental health diagnosis is likely to significantly reduce the number of children diagnosed later,” says Jennifer Katzenstein, Ph.D., director of psychology and neuropsychology at the hospital.
Finding a New Project
The Guild recently fulfilled a pledge to support nursing education and was looking for a new focus for its fundraising. Past projects have included a new ambulance and the neonatal intensive care unit when the current hospital was built.
Katzenstein presented a plan to about 175 Guild members in a Shark Tank-style competition and won the day.
“When presented with the data that Florida ranks near the bottom in national funding for pediatric mental health, the Guild seized the opportunity to advocate, fundraise and volunteer for our kids,” says Rachael Russell, chair of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation Guild. “We look forward to partnering with innovative programs throughout the hospital’s service area to increase access for our patients and families.”
The Guild, which has eight branches around the west coast of Florida, will raise the money with a variety of fundraising events and activities.
Building a Team
The Center for Behavioral Health has been developing a comprehensive, integrated approach to mental health care programming since the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences formed in 2015. It has expanded from two to three psychiatrists and from three to 13 psychologists/neuropsychologists, in addition to adding fellows and trainees to address specialized areas such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety/mood disorders, autism spectrum disorders, neuropsychology/neurodevelopment, pain management, suicide and trauma-informed care.
Still, neuropsychology was the top service line for internal referrals in fiscal year 2017 and demand remains high. The hospital rapidly is adding providers and expanding its services, but keeping pace with the need is challenging and expensive.
“Mental health is a critical issue in our community, our state and our country,” Katzenstein says. “We need to address it with a thoughtful, comprehensive and evidence-based approach that benefits everyone in the long run. Our mission includes being at the forefront of developing and executing that plan. We are very grateful to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Guild for supporting us on this journey.”
This story first appeared in For the Kids magazine, a publication of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Guild for information on joining. To support the Center for Behavioral Health, contact Foundation assistant director, program engagement Ashley Nall at 727-767-2958.