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5/1/24 news article

Dayton Children’s announces new Center for Emotional Wellbeing

Center brings together eight existing programs focused on mental health prevention and intervention

Student resiliency coordinator with patient

To kick-off Mental Health Awareness Month, Dayton Children’s Hospital is announcing the new Center for Emotional Wellbeing, bringing together eight existing Dayton Children’s programs to promote positive mental, emotional, behavioral and physical health development in children and adolescents.  
Emotional wellbeing gives children the ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. It doesn’t just make you feel good—it impacts a child’s outlook, relationships, and mental and physical health. Unfortunately, many children and adolescents in the Dayton region don’t experience emotional wellbeing. Poverty and food insecurity, unstable family relationships, the influence of social media and lingering effects of the pandemic all play a role. These and other stressors increase a child’s risk for mental health conditions—the number one health concern facing youth in our community and nationwide.  

With this background in mind, Dayton Children’s aligned programs that already existed throughout the continuum of mental health care “under one roof” to share the broad scope of work being done throughout the community.

“The programs go beyond the hospital’s walls to meet children where they are,” says Sue Fralick, director of the Center for Emotional Wellbeing at Dayton Children’s. “The center’s 100-plus employees serve children and families wherever there’s a need—at home, in school and at local pediatrician offices. We provide support, education and skill-building early on to prevent crisis situations in the future that are more challenging and expensive to treat.”  

Programs that fall under the Center for Emotional Wellbeing include: 

clinic-based programs  

  • HealthySteps — Parenting and child development support for families of children ages zero to three 

community-based programs  

  • Mental Health First Aid and suicide prevention training — Available to community members and Dayton Children’s staff  
  • On Our Sleeves — Provides tools to educate adults on childhood mental wellness to break the stigma around childhood mental health  

home-based programs  

  • Community health workers—Support for children and families to equip them with information and tools to address their mental and physical health outcomes 

school-based programs  

  • School-based therapy —Therapists embedded in elementary through high schools, as well as after-school programs
  • Student Resiliency Program —Student resiliency coordinators provide resiliency development for students and families impacted by trauma by working full-time at area schools helping students build on their strengths  

resource programs  

  • Mental Health Resource Connection — works with community pediatrician offices to connect patients and families to mental health services  
  • Youth and Family Resource Connection — works with area school staff to connect students and families with local resources that promote social and mental wellness

“Helping children who struggle emotionally is critical,” says Sue. “If we wait too long, symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns may develop. They can become chronic, lasting weeks, months or even years.”   

The Center for Emotional Wellbeing is the latest step that Dayton Children’s is taking to address the growing need for behavioral health services in the Dayton region. In addition to the new center, Dayton Children’s continues its work on a new behavioral health building, scheduled to open in 2025, which will double the number of beds for behavioral health patients and will allow for strengthened and smoother continuity of care by bringing behavioral health inpatient, outpatient and crisis services all under one roof. 

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