“We’ve seen how Project ECHO is making a difference, but we know there is still a tremendous need to provide better services to people who may have trouble traveling to see doctors in Cincinnati,” James says. “Our goal has always been to help this program grow, to show how it can improve lives. Now we hope others will see its impact and join us in supporting it.”
While improving access to care is critical in preventing devastating outcomes, we understand it will take effort from all fronts to truly make a difference. To this end, our research experts are leading bold new initiatives aimed at early identification of those most at risk—so we can create laser-focused interventions.
Predicting a Child’s Mental Health Trajectory
Studies show that about 50 percent of mental health challenges can be prevented if they are caught and addressed early. That’s why we’re engaging partners to solve mental health issues right at the start: during childhood.
We’ve teamed up with Oak Ridge National Laboratories, home to one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, for our Mental Health Trajectories Project. Through the Decoding Mental Health Center, we’re working to find patient-specific mental health patterns so that we can identify children with the highest risk of developing a mental illness.
“It’s our goal to cure depression, anxiety and suicide ideation through early intervention,” says John Pestian, PhD, co-director of the mental health trajectory program, and Professor and Endowed Chair, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biomedical Informatics. Similar to pediatric growth charts that project height, weight, body mass and head circumference, this innovative research will help us predict patient trajectories for mental illness.
To do this, we’re assembling large amounts of data from sources known to play a role in influencing the mental health of a growing child. Our team is looking for patterns in medical records, genetic factors, economic disruption, housing conditions, family dysfunctions, substance abuse, systemic racism and—like Olivia—bullying.
It’s a massive task that involves more than 25 leading scientists in nine different research divisions within the medical center, as well as collaborators at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Colorado and Oak Ridge.
“The computer takes in all that data and learns about mental illness in a matter of hours, just a fraction of the time a normal computer would take,” says Dr. Pestian. “Over time, trajectories will allow families and providers to take action early enough to prevent the dangers of self-harm and even the tragedy of suicide.”
Real Progress Demands Community Collaboration
Olivia has trekked a slow and rocky road toward recovery. She’s had multiple stays at our dedicated psychiatric campus in College Hill, yet Kristen believes her daughter’s experience has been life-changing thanks to our tireless pursuit to provide family-centered care.
“There were daily family rounds from Olivia’s team. I also got updates over the phone every single day, and I needed that,” says Kristen. “They did an amazing job taking care of me while they were taking the very best care of her.”
Olivia’s experience here has inspired her as well.
She hopes to one day become a psychologist, and her dream is to make her way back to College Hill as a care provider.
As we focus on technology-based solutions that make mental healthcare more accessible and prevention more effective, we’ll continue to rely on our community of supporters so that our children can not only survive a world of daily stress, but thrive in it.
For more information on how you can support our mental health research, please contact Ashley Titus at 513-803-6593 or email@example.com.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of this family.