Seattle Children’s is the anchor institution for children’s mental health care across five states, and the resource regional providers turn to for evidence-based consultations and advice on everything from the most common to the most difficult questions. Our mental health experts are always striving to improve care through research — from research on the developing brain to applied research that seeks better ways to promote mental wellness. Every day, we serve youth and families from small towns and big cities who speak many different languages and think about mental health from many different points of view. They inspire us to make sure child health always includes mental health, and that the care we offer is timely and tailored to the needs of each family.– Dr. Larry Wissow, division chief, Raisbeck Endowed Chair in Pediatric Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Seattle Children’s
Progress: We’ve integrated behavioral health into multiple primary care practices through the Seattle Children’s Care Network, and launched mental health services at our North Clinic in Everett, Washington. Our new Child and Adolescent Latino Mental Health Assessment and Treatment Clinic (CALMA), provides culturally responsive mental health care in Spanish and English.
“The most effective mental and behavioral health services reach people where they are: in the language they speak, using culturally meaningful approaches. That’s why we’re committed to developing a skilled mental and behavioral health workforce that reflects the youth and families we serve.”— Laura Knapp, vice president, Mental and Behavioral Health Services
Progress: We’ve expanded our continuum of care for youth with eating disorders, and launched crisis care clinics specifically for youth experiencing suicidality or aggression.
We want as many parents as possible to have the best tools to support their child’s progress — whether it be for a return to the classroom or any other milestone. Funding to develop a training infrastructure would allow us to teach proven, evidence-based practices to a wide range of community partners, including therapists. Wide dissemination of these tools to parents means kids would have the effective support they need to work through their challenges instead of reaching a crisis point feeling alone and afraid. Philanthropic dollars can make this happen.— Dr. Carol Rockhill, child and adolescent psychiatrist, leader of a school avoidance group for parents at Seattle Children’s
Progress: The Autism Center and outpatient Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine services moved into a newly remodeled, combined location in December 2022. The space is intentionally designed for youth with autism and/or behavioral health needs, and was made possible by the generous support of our community, particularly the Sunderland Foundation and the Norcliffe Foundation.
Co-locating our autism and mental and behavioral health services under one roof, in a space that was specifically designed for the needs of our patients, creates synergies between mental and brain health experts from across Seattle Children’s and will lead to new ideas and models of care that will benefit kids in our region and beyond.— Dr. Mendy Minjarez, executive director, Seattle Children’s Autism Center
Progress: We’ve launched free, video-based community classes to help families navigate the mental health care system in Washington state.
Mental health affects the individual, their family and all aspects of life including physical health and wellbeing. We must make mental health care a priority — and emphasize early intervention — in order to advance long-term positive outcomes for children, adolescents and emerging adults.— Dr. Yolanda Evans, adolescent medicine specialist and researcher in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s
When I was in seventh grade, a two-week absence due to illness kicked off a vicious cycle where the pressure of missed homework and fear of lower grades led me to refuse to go to school — a strategy that spiraled into more missed homework and actual lower grades. After five weeks away from school, I saw a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s who prescribed anxiety medication that helped me finish the school year. But in eighth grade, the cycle started up again after my great-grandmother died and I got really depressed. I hated myself for missing school, and as each day passed, I hated myself more and more. I decided that I couldn’t keep repeating the cycle every day. That night, I tried to kill myself. Fortunately for me and my family, I didn’t die. Over the next three years, I worked with Dr. Carol Rockhill, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s, and a community therapist to address the root cause of my distress: anxiety. Today, I’m thankful for the help I got and am truly enjoying life as a student at University of British Columbia.
— Sam Duenwald, 21
Now is the time for a once-in-a-generation effort to shift the paradigm of youth mental health care. As trusted experts in pediatric health, Seattle Children’s has the plan, the people and the passion to lead the charge. There is no time to waste for youth who are suffering now — and for children yet to come — because all kids deserve to live their healthiest, most fulfilling lives possible.
— Dr. Jeff Ojemann, chief medical officer and co-chair, Neurosciences Center, Seattle Children’s