$5 million investment will help enhance behavioral, mental care at Dayton Children’s

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The Connor Group is investing $5 million in Dayton Children’s to help enhance behavioral and mental care for children in our area.

Over the last six years, Dayton Children’s says numbers have doubled even tripled for behavioral health services. That’s why they say this investment is so important as they hope to create an innovative model of mental care.

“Times have changed for our young people. They’re exposed to so much more,” states Helen Jones-Kelley, the Executive Director at Montgomery County ADAMHS.

Putting it mildly, this generation has much more to worry about.

“Our children are in crisis, and our mental health struggles have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Deborah Feldman, the President and CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital.

“Many are also still recovering from the tragic events of 2019– both the tornadoes and the violence in the Oregon District,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley goes on to say.

Doctors say traditional care focuses on the physical, but medical professionals believe children need more than that.

According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children will need care for a mental illness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10-24.

Dayton Children’s says it’s seen a 300% increase in children coming through the doors because parents are afraid their children are going to hurt themselves or others.

“The reality is that children and families deal with all of these issues each and every day,” says Dr. Jonathan Thackeray, the Chief Medical Health Community Officer for Dayton Children’s.

In 2019, Dayton Children’s opened a state-of-the-art behavioral health crisis center and 24-bed in-patient unit. Wednesday’s announcement of the $5-million investment will take mental care a step further.

“We have to shift the model of care, and this investment helps us do just that,” states Dr. Thackeray.

The newly-named Connor Child Health Pavilion will make behavioral and mental health checks part of the routine during a child’s pediatric visits.

“For us, this is not a donation or a gift. It’s an investment in Dayton and the future of our community,” says Mike McQuiston, a Connor Group partner and Dayton Children’s Board Member.

The program will provide services, counseling, and therapy, with prevention, early detection, and intervention as key.

The hospital is hoping this will become a national prototype and transform care across the country to focus on mental wellness for children.

“I want you to know that there’s hope. There is hope,” states Jones-Kelley.

The $5 million investment is the second largest philanthropic investment Dayton Children’s has ever received.


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