Cincinnati Children’s Opens First-of-its-Kind Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center in United States

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is excited to announce the opening of its Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center, the first of its kind in the United States.

The Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center was created to provide comprehensive psychological support and mental health care tailored for families affected by Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). It offers research-proven treatments focused on enhancing both physical and mental health. The center is helping those living with CHD navigate through challenges, regain a sense of hope and resilience and improve overall wellbeing.

The center’s team of experts includes psychologists, social workers and child life specialists embedded in congenital heart care. Care is provided for people of all ages, from expecting parents who receive a prenatal cardiac diagnosis, to infants, children and teens, all the way through to adults who were born with heart disease – as well as their family members.

“Congenital heart disease can profoundly affect families emotionally,” said Nadine Kasparian, PhD, psychologist and director of Cincinnati Children’s Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center. “Our goal is to support patients and families through diagnosis, treatment and transitions, so they feel informed, empowered and supported at every stage.”

In 2022, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a Scientific Statement to inspire new standards for the integration of mental health care into congenital heart centers. In the statement, experts including Kasparian, underscored the critical role mental health plays for patients of all ages with CHD. While tremendous resilience is common among people living with CHD, many also experience ongoing stress and adversity; the AHA statement emphasized that 1 in 2 adults with CHD suffer from anxiety or depression at some time in their lives and 1 in 3 parents of children with CHD may develop post-traumatic stress.

“There is a deep understanding of the mental health burden associated with CHD and appreciation for the need for a dedicated response,” Kasparian said. “That response needs to be integrated into routine medical care and accessible when our patients and their families need it most. When cardiac care and mental health care go hand-in-hand, we normalize emotional responses to health challenges and reduce the stigma that often surrounds mental health.” Cincinnati Children’s is proudly leading the way in transforming congenital heart care through this new center.

Research is also an integral part of the Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center, which is conducting groundbreaking research into parent mental health in conjunction with the Heart Institute’s Fetal Heart Program at Cincinnati Children’s. Currently, the Center is leading or supporting more than 30 studies, all carried out in partnership with patients and families.

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Bo McMillan