Governor DeWine attends groundbreaking for Dayton Children’s new mental health center

·2 min read

Governor Mike DeWine was there as Dayton Children’s broke ground on a new mental health center Monday.

The mental health crisis gripping the country is hitting especially hard in children and teenagers.

Dayton Children’s Hospital is at the center of that storm and realized they needed more resources.

>>RELATED: Dayton Children’s Hospital announces plans for new free-standing pediatric mental health care center

“We try to admit them but we are almost always full,” said Dr. Kelly Blankenship, associate chief medical officer for behavioral health at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Blankenship told News Center 7 that of 181 patient beds at the hospital, only 24 are dedicated to behavioral health.

The statistics tell her that has to change.

“Suicidal ideation, thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, is the number one reason that any child is admitted to Dayton Children’s,” Blankenship said.

That’s why hundreds of people gathered for the announcement of a $110 million investment in young people’s mental health.

One of the speakers was Harper Madges, a student leader of a peer-to-peer counseling service at Kettering Fairmont High school, known as the Hope Squad. She urged everyone not just to talk with young people but also truly listen.

“Sometimes what I hear can be terrifying, freshman year, I found one of my friends breaking down in the bathroom,” Madges said.

Madges’ stories of high school students’ mental health struggles back up what Dayton Children’s is seeing.

They’ve treated 7,000 people for behavioral health crises in the last 12 months.

In March of this year, they admitted 211 children for that reason, 31% higher than the same time the year before.

“If you look at mental health, we have not studied mental health like we have cancer or heart attacks,” DeWine said.

DeWine helped secure $25 million in state money for this project.

It will double the number of behavioral health beds available at the hospital.

DeWine believes families should also be will be able to access out-patient counseling help quicker for their struggling children.

“Not to be told they have to wait, sometimes they’re told to wait a month, two months, that is simply not satisfactory,” DeWine said.

Officials anticipate the new mental health care center opening in the spring of 2025.