ORLANDO, Fla., — Dr. Phillips Charities, a Central Florida philanthropic organization, recently awarded a $6 million grant to support AdventHealth for Children in the creation of the Center for Advancement and Support of Youth (CASY), the first-of-its-kind comprehensive pediatric and young adult mental and behavioral health program in Central Florida.
Through a wholistic and patient-centered approach, CASY will improve and expand access to mental health care, fill gaps in the care continuum, increase early diagnosis and intervention of mental and behavioral health concerns, and help patients and families navigate the complex mental and behavioral health care system. The program will help close the gap between the need for mental health resources for children and the services available.
When fully implemented, CASY will provide up to 10,000 child and adolescent psychiatrist visits and 5,500 psychologist visits every year. By increasing the resources available for pediatric patients in Central Florida, the program aims to reduce the number of ER visits, hospitalizations, and other impacts of mental health crises. In the past two years, over 300 children were hospitalized at AdventHealth for Children following a suicide attempt or other self-harm event. Recruitment is underway with providers expected to be in place in early 2022.
CASY will also engage community partners to leverage resources, enhance outreach, and will include a public campaign to de-stigmatize beliefs that may prevent or delay seeking mental health services when needed.
“As the pandemic continues, we have become aware of the increase in demand for improved access to mental health care for youth and adolescents,” said Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities. “Currently, Orange County has less than three child and adolescent psychiatrists for every 10,000 children under the age of 18 in the area. Today’s youth are the future and providing them with the tools they need to succeed is vital for our community, which is why we are excited for AdventHealth’s plans for this program.”
Dr. Phillips Charities has been a supporter of AdventHealth for decades. Since November 1956, Dr. Phillips Charities has provided over 60 contributions to AdventHealth totaling over $10 million, including this five-year, $6 million commitment. Dr. Phillips Charities’ mission has always been to help people help themselves, which this program aims to accomplish.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of Dr. Phillips Charities. Because of their generosity and commitment to the arts, health care, education and social services, Central Florida is a better and healthier place for all,” said Randy Haffner, president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. “We look forward to this transformational work that will provide children with the resources they need to live a healthy life in body, mind, and spirit.”
“Our most vulnerable young people, who may be as young as 10 years old, are suffering from undiagnosed and mistreated behavioral and mental health issues. Early intervention and treatment is very important to prevent negative long-term consequences,” said Dr. Rajan Wadhawan, senior executive officer of AdventHealth for Children. “We’ve come a long way in caring for our children’s physical health, but their mental health can have just as great of an impact on their futures. Through this program, we’ll soon have even more resources to ensure a brighter future for the children in our community.”
There continues to be a severe national shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Nearly one in five U.S. children have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder each year. Only about 20% of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive care from a specialized mental health care provider.
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