KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children’s Mercy Hospital announced a major commitment to address the mental health crisis among kids.
It’s a move families believe will generate something important: Hope. Including an Olathe family who lost their son to suicide.
Children’s Mercy passed out flashlights Thursday sparking the Illuminate, a 5-year plan to shine a light on the mental health needs of children and teens in our community.
Family, neighbors, friends, parents and health care workers stood up to say who they light the path Thursday.
“When I lost him, I said I will never not take the opportunity to say his name again,” Heather Scruton said. “Of course when I stood up, I couldn’t speak. So Alison said his name for me and that’s OK.”
Scruton’s son was 21 when he died by suicide two years ago.
“When he was younger, we struggled to find help when we needed it,” Scruton said. “It took a long time; the system was hard to navigate.”
Children’s Mercy hopes “Illuminate” will change that.
It’s a 5-year, $150-million investment to address the pediatric mental health crisis.
Children’s Mercy has seen a 1,200% increase in children in crisis incidents from two years ago.
“If we don’t take care of our kids, it hurts all of us, and so our youth need and deserve good easy to access quality health care it will be transformative to our community,”
Director of Development and Behavioral Health Dr. Sarah Soden said.
The plan has four phases.
First, early intervention — address needs in primary care clinics and schools with easy access.
Second, increase specialty services for vulnerable populations who deal with anxiety, depression, ADHD and eating disorders.
Third is a focus on research and fourth is expanding inpatient hospital care.
“If we don’t take care of our kids it hurts all of us, and so our youth need and deserve good easy to access quality health care it will be transformative to our community,” Soden said.
Children’s Mercy’s ER sees 24 kids a day for behavioral health.
Soden estimates illuminate will impact more than 80,000 children.
As a nurse in the health care system herself, Scuton said this is a good first step.
“It’s so important to us that another family another momma does not go through what we went through.
The Sunderland Foundation donated $50 million. A combination of state and private funding has raised the total to $70 million to-date.