Children’s Hospital & Medical Center announced Thursday that it will “develop, pilot and open” innovative pediatric mental health urgent care centers throughout Nebraska.
The centers, which will serve children and adolescents, aim to address the national mental health crisis and improve access to mental health care in the state.
Centers will be located in Omaha and central or western Nebraska. The exact number of centers and their locations have yet to be determined.
Children’s will receive $10 million from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act federal pool of funds to establish the centers.
Children’s will also receive $1.8 million in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services for telehealth technology to support pediatric mental health initiatives.
The Nebraska Legislature allocated a total of $40 million of state ARPA funds for behavioral health projects in Bill 1014, which outlines how the state will spend pandemic funds. Governor Pete Ricketts signed the measure on Wednesday.
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Chanda Chacon, President and CEO of Children, thanked lawmakers, Ricketts and state government partners for working to meet the needs of the state’s youth.
“It is overwhelming to see the support from Members of the Legislative Assembly who recognize the mental health crisis we face today and who have the courage to make a one-time investment that will last a lifetime,” Chacon said. in a press release.
“Now is the time to work with our partners and community stakeholders, and we are committed to solving children’s mental health issues through an innovative model of care.
One in five American children reports having suffered from a mental health problem in a given year.
In 2021, children’s hospitals across the country reported a 45% increase in the number of self-harm and suicide cases among 5- to 17-year-olds compared to the same period in 2019, according to Sound the Alarm for Kids, a campaign by the Children’s Hospital Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others.
In December, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory to highlight the urgent need to address the mental health crisis among young people.
Dr. Jennifer McWilliams, chief of the division of child psychiatry, said the $1.8 million for telehealth will help the hospital expand access across the state and provide more immediate access to services. . This money had been added to LB 1014 after having originally been included in another measure.
Two other previously announced projects also aim to expand mental health services in the state. Each will receive a portion of the behavioral health care funding allocated by the legislature.
A nonprofit group led by Omaha philanthropist Ken Stinson plans to build a new 36- to 40-bed behavioral health center for children ages 5 to 18 on the Immanuel Center campus. The facility will cost around $50 million and will be called Lasting Hope Center for Children and Families. It will be operated by CHI Health.
Additionally, Community Alliance — an Omaha nonprofit that has served Nebraskanians for 40 years — announced plans to expand its services and build a 120,000 square foot corporate headquarters at 71st Street and Mercy Road.
The construction will be funded through a $60 million capital campaign, which includes the organization’s share of federal funds appropriated by the Legislative Assembly.
Carole Boye, CEO of Community Alliance, said when announcing the expansion that mental health issues were apparent in the community before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has increased the number of people affected and brought to light the the region’s lack of capacity and access to behavioral health. care.