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mental health access

When a child’s mental health needs are unmet, it can have lifelong consequences.  It can affect their school, home and personal lives immensely, so it is imperative to address these issues as soon as possible. Dayton Children’s is leading the systemic community response to the behavioral health crisis of our region’s children through a collaborative partner network, primary care physician support and comprehensive services provided by the hospital.

In June 2019, we opened the region's only inpatient behavioral health unit at Dayton Children’s main campus. This 24-bed unit treats children ages 9-17 who need inpatient care during a behavioral or mental health crisis. In our new space, once the child is stabilized, they are connected with appropriate behavioral health services throughout our community. In addition, we utilize telehealth (virtual medical visits) to connect patients with outpatient services. Children are cared for by a specially trained care team in an environment built to keep them safe and support their unique needs.

Sara is just one example of how mental health access impacts a child's future:

Sara and the pain of cyberbullying


Sara* is a 13-year-old girl who has been struggling because she has been bullied online by a couple of other girls at her school. She often feels lonely and is having a difficult time controlling her emotions. Her parents are very concerned about her well-being and fear she is depressed. Recently, she cut herself to relieve some of the pain.

In 2018, Dayton Children’s saw double the number of children in the ED for behavioral crisis than the year before. Suicide deaths have increased more than two-fold for ages 8-17 (35 deaths to 80 deaths) and by nearly 1.5 times for ages 18-25 (155 to 225 deaths) from 2007 to 2017.

Last year, over 3,600 children were connected to mental health services through Dayton Children’s mental health resource connection. 

How can we serve Sara?

Sara’s parents shared their concerns during a recent doctor’s appointment and Sara’s pediatrician referred them to the mental health resource connection. Within one day, a social worker called the family and did an assessment over the phone. The social worker is an expert at knowing all of the agencies in the Dayton area and
she was able to connect Sara with a therapist who she really liked a lot.

Unfortunately, Sara faced another setback when her report card came back and her grades were not very good. She was so disappointed in herself and made some comments about wishing she was dead because she could never live up to her parents’ standards. Her parents were so worried so they took her to the behavioral crisis center. Trained professionals assessed Sara and got her stabilized to go home safely.

One night, everything snapped. Sara was failing in school, the bullying would just not stop and she was totally humiliated at the Friday night football game. Sara went home and took too many pills from the medicine cabinet. Thankfully, her parents quickly found her. They called 9-1-1 and Sara was taken to the inpatient mental behavioral health unit to get the stabilization she needed and was discharged in four days.

*Sara is a fictional composite of many children and teens we see at Dayton Children's, who are struggling with the normal emotional turmoil of adolescence, compounded by modern-day problems like cyberbullying and harassment. Due to the high level of patient confidentiality, we promise our patients, we chose not to reveal the story of a real patient. 

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Your gift to Dayton Children’s will help provide the necessary staffing and the special features that are needed to make these programs a reality and provide healing and hope for our patients and their families.

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mental & behavioral health at Dayton Children's

Dayton Children's Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources is the region's leader is providing mental and behavioral health services and programs tailored to the needs of children's and teens. Learn more about the services we currently provide. 

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To learn more about supporting the 384,000 kids who depend on Dayton Children's every year, please contact our Foundation office at 937-641-3405 or by email.

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Your support will help provide important programs that lead to healthier lives and brighter futures for kids in our region.

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