A Transformative Approach to Mental Health
Artificial Intelligence and Telehealth Help us Prevent Mental Illness
When Kristen’s* daughter Olivia* threw herself down a flight of stairs during a school field trip, she never imagined that her child had been dealing with urges to self-harm. But after moving to a new school and facing bouts of bullying, Olivia’s mounting anxiety and depression became too much.
“Mental illness isn’t like a broken arm, where you put a cast on it and wait for it to heal,” Kristen says. “It’s a chronic, lasting disease.”
Pressure at school, social media consumption, isolation, and family upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few of the stressors our youth face today. They have shined a bright light on the mental health crisis, yet the problem has been mounting for years.
In the United States, more than 53 percent of parents and guardians report they’re concerned about the mental state of their kids. This startling statistic is why we’ve become the largest inpatient mental health provider of any children’s hospital in the nation. We meet a critical need for kids and teens in our area.
“Cincinnati Children’s has always been there for us,” Kristen says. “They’re committed to providing the care my daughter needed—care we couldn’t find anywhere else.”
As more kids find themselves struggling, we’re transforming our approach to mental healthcare by improving access to treatment and enhancing innovative research to identify children at risk so we can prevent problems from occurring altogether.
And we’re seeking dedicated, committed partners to help advance these efforts. By working with donors, the tech industry and others in our community, we can help more kids like Olivia.
Access to Quality Mental Healthcare is a Must
When Olivia began struggling with severe anxiety and depression at just 12 years old, it was a community counselor who first recognized she needed further evaluation from our experts. And while Olivia was able to be seen, many other families aren’t—due to challenges like the pandemic, their location, or not having enough local providers to meet the need.
For the last eight years, the Maxon Foundation has helped us expand our circle of care with telehealth programs, connecting our experts to community caregivers and equipping them with the tools they need to help kids stay healthy.
The Maxon Foundation’s most recent gift specifically supports our mental health work, helping us educate pediatricians and school counselors to better identify symptoms, provide treatment, or give referrals when more specialized care is needed—before things escalate to a crisis level.
“Early implementation of the telehealth program put into place an infrastructure to seamlessly provide the highest level of care to all throughout the pandemic,” says James J. Ryan, Jr., trustee of the Maxon Foundation. “The prescient vision of Cincinnati Children’s to focus on the development of its telehealth program years ago is making a great impact on mental healthcare today.”
By developing interactive tele-mentoring courses through our Extension for Community Care Outcomes (Project ECHO), we’re able to make an especially needed impact for families living in underserved and rural areas, which are particularly lacking in accessible mental health professionals.