In 2018, I called for a children’s mental health moonshot at Seattle Children’s because I saw the trends happening at the time and recognized the need for a bolder approach. I never could have predicted the devastating impact of a global pandemic and its acceleration of the mental health crisis we face today.
Maybe the moon wasn’t bold enough. Every day we’re reminded that our kids are not alright. Patients continue to overwhelm emergency departments across the country because there is nowhere else for our kids to go.
Last month, the Surgeon General warned about the negative influence of social media on our children’s mental health. The documentary “The Wait to Nowhere,” recently screened by Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), poignantly highlights the national crisis we face, calling us all to action now.
Together with leaders from across CHA, we are taking steps to launch a leadership collaborative to address the crisis we see across the nation. We are taking action, but frankly it feels overwhelming. That said, we know we are at our best when we learn from each other to develop models that can be scaled across the country to improve care and outcomes.
Children’s hospitals have been doing tremendous work to address the crisis, not only thinking outside the box but expanding the box itself. Whether devising creative labor strategies, reimagining community partnerships, or integrating behavioral health where kids spend their time, children’s hospitals have changed the paradigm for how we provide behavioral health care and build a workforce that can sustain it.
I am humbled to belong to this community of children’s hospitals driven by a common goal: to help all children be healthy and thrive. Working together, I’m confident we can meet the challenge in front of us and create new systems of care and insights from research to address the crisis. Our kids are counting on us.