DAYTON – A new year is time for a fresh start. Many families may be seeking new ways to handle their children’s mental health issues or find more services to help develop skill sets and coping mechanisms. As up to 20 percent of children are dealing with a mental health issue, the need for services and support is growing in our community.
To better address that need, Dayton Children’s launches the Mental Health Community Resources Directory. The idea for this directory came from the Mental/Developmental Health Advisory Alliance led by Gregory Ramey, PhD, director for Dayton Children’s Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources. This alliance is made up of a group of mental health professionals in the community who meet regularly to discuss services and identify mental and developmental needs of children.
The directory is the first of its kind in the Dayton region, bringing together many of the mental health resources available to families in the community in an easy-to-navigate online directory. Parents and pediatricians can search by zip code, service needed, condition or age range and even select only resources that accept Medicaid. It is located under the mental health services section on Dayton Children’s website.
“As we created our Destination 2020 plan for Dayton Children’s future, we knew that we needed to focus on mental health services,” says Deborah Feldman, president and CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “However, we also knew there were a number of organizations and programs in the community already offering services for many of those needs. We created a way to help families quickly and easily find and connect to those services.”
“As we compiled this database, we also saw what services needed added capability,” says Dr. Ramey. “We have been steadily building those services over the last few years to better serve our children and families.”
Under the umbrella of the Center for Pediatric Mental Health Resources, Dayton Children’s has launched several new programs and expanded several services.
Autism Diagnostic Center
The center launched in April and already the time it takes to get a definitive answer on an autism diagnosis decreased from more than 200 days to less than five. In less than a week, parents now get answers and start down the path toward getting the right services their child needs.
Psychiatry – Dayton Children’s now offers multiple clinics with three part-time psychiatrists and the growth will continue in 2016. Collaboration with community agencies is improving the care of patients needing acute inpatient psychiatric services.
Psychology – Three new psychologists are joining the department, including Dr. Margaret Hudepohl, who is developing a neuropsychology program.
Mental Health Resource Connection – This service allows pediatricians and family doctors to make a referral to a trained social worker who can connect families to local services. Staffing is expanding for this program to meet the growing need.
Care Clinic – Dayton Children’s is recruiting an additional practitioner to provide medical examination and follow-up care for cases of suspected or alleged child maltreatment.
“Mental health is an area that we will continue to focus on to meet the needs of our community,” says Feldman. “We will continue to make sure that our families have access to the services they need close to home.”