Click Here to Donate to Our Lighting the Way Campaign

Our Children Need Our Help

The mental health crisis facing our children is, quite literally, on CHKD's doorstep. Every level of CHKD's regional care network for children - from primary care pediatricians and outpatient clinics to our mental health therapists and emergency department - has seen a marked increase in demand for mental health care over the past five years.

For more than 100 years, our community has counted on CHKD to be there for every child who needs us. But today, our children are in the midst of a crisis, and the numbers are staggering. Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24? Or that 23 percent of children in Virginia have a diagnosable mental health condition and the suicide rate has increased 56 percent in youth ages 10 to 24 over the past decade?

CHKD has seen the number of mental health patient encounters grow from 3,556 in 2015 to more than 18,000 in 2020 and we're taking steps to help meet this need. Dozens of CHKD pediatricians have completed mini-fellowships to help them diagnose and treat mental health conditions in their practices. We've hired more outpatient mental health therapists, and continue to recruit

Despite these efforts, there is still a months-long waitlist for outpatient appointments. Our children are suffering, and they need our help. Too often, they wait for days, weeks, or months for the mental health services they need - sometimes leaving the region, or even the state, for care. 

With your help, CHKD is determined to change that. Support our Lighting the Way Campaign here.

Focusing on the Least-Served in Our Community

In prioritizing the needs of our community and designing services and programs to meet them, CHKD aims to eliminate the gaps in access and care. Feedback from a wide variety of community stakeholders is collected every three years. In 2013, 2016, and 2019, children's mental health was selected by an overwhelming majority as a top priority for us to address. Additional data determined where we can do the most good for the greatest number of children.

Based on these considerations, CHKD has pinpointed the following areas of focus for our mental health initiative:

  • Children 5 and under.
  • Children with neurodevelopmental disorders including autism.
  • Children with eating/feeding disorders.
  • Children with somatic symptom disorders.
  • Children with general psychiatric concerns.
  • Children with co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions.

CHKD in the News