Case Study: Nationwide Children‘s Hospital Behavioral Health Services

With the high demand for children’s behavioral health care services and youth suicides on the rise, Nationwide Children’s increased its commitment to provide integrated care for kids in crisis. Nationwide Children’s launched a national movement On Our Sleeves to break stigmas around children’s mental health in 2018, and in March 2020 opened Big Lots Behavioral health pavilion, a new comprehensive behavioral health treatment and research pavilion for children and adolescents. This case study is part of an AHA Behavioral Health Services series on innovation and community partnerships.

Executive Summary

More children and adolescents died by suicide in Franklin County, Ohio, in 2014 than in any year prior. Many people in the community attributed this toll to a lack of access to prevention, early intervention and treatment of behavioral health disorders for children and adolescents. Access to a therapist or psychiatrist often could take months, which is how a children’s hospital emergency department (ED) became a crisis intervention center.

Located in Columbus, Nationwide Children’s Hospital is an integrated community health care organization providing a full range of children’s services. In 2015, with its board’s support, Nationwide Children’s increased its commitment to behavioral health. By collaborating and coordinating with existing community-based providers and programs, access to pediatric behavioral health services throughout the region improved.

To reduce and manage the prevalence of behavioral health disorders, Nationwide Children’s committed to:

  1. Building the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion, which expanded acute services by increasing the number of inpatient and crisis beds. Opened a dedicated psychiatric crisis department.
  2. Implementing the Zero Suicide Initiative to improve care for patients at risk for suicide.
  3. Expanding intermediate levels of care, including a new child and adolescent partial hospitalization program.
  4. Expanding services for patients with autism and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In March 2020, through a philanthropic gift, Nationwide Children’s opened a new comprehensive behavioral health treatment and research pavilion for children and adolescents. The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion is the United States’ largest and most comprehensive center dedicated exclusively to child and adolescent behavioral and mental health on a pediatric medical campus. A partnership between the Abigail Wexner Research Institute and Big Lots Behavioral Health Services allows for the development and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies. The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion is also home to the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research, which addresses the growing national problem of suicide among youth.