October 10, 2019
The statistics were becoming impossible to ignore. One in five children now live with a significantly impairing mental illness. Half of all mental illness begins by 14 years of age. At Nationwide Children’s Hospital alone, we were finding that every time we provided new behavioral health services for young people, we were met with more demand.
We needed to act. In 2017, with a transformational gift from Big Lots Foundation, Nationwide Children’s announced the construction of the largest behavioral health treatment and research center just for children and adolescents on a pediatric campus. We are just a few months from the opening of the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion in March 2020, a central Ohio facility that will have a global impact.
But we also realized that there was a need for a larger conversation: for people to understand what children and adolescents were experiencing, and to understand that the stigma surrounding behavioral health was preventing families from seeking the care they need.
“One year ago we planted the seeds. On this World Mental Health Day, I am honored to see the On Our Sleeves movement is not only taking root...it is thriving.”
So one year ago, on World Mental Health Day 2018, Nationwide Children’s launched a national movement called On Our Sleeves. Because young people don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, we wanted to shed a light on this under-recognized facet of child wellbeing.
Today, on World Mental Health Day 2019, we can say that the response to On Our Sleeves has been staggering. Over 1 million people have interacted with OnOurSleeves.org, whether joining the movement or accessing resources available on our website for families, schools and employers. We have heard from across the country that people want even more ways to address behavioral health in their homes and their communities.
We have been inspired by the many partners who have joined the movement over the last year. Christina Day and her husband, football coach Ryan Day, joined On Our Sleeves this June and made a bold commitment to childhood behavioral health with The Christina and Ryan Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Just last week, the Days helped announce a new interactive program through On Our Sleeves for students in more than 200 middle and high schools in central Ohio. The program, called “Day Time Break,” invites students and staff to participate in activities that incorporate self-care and coping strategies. Resource kits for participating schools were developed in collaboration with behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s.
The internationally famous Harlem Globetrotters have also established a fund at Nationwide Children’s, and are the driving force behind a new national mental health curriculum for students in 3rd through 5th grades. Available for free here, it was created with Nationwide Children’s and On Our Sleeves.
Actress, author, entrepreneur and fashion designer Ashley Eckstein has joined the movement as well, debuting an On Our Sleeves-themed dress at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International as part of the Her Universe Fashion Show. Sales from a t-shirt she designed help support the movement, and she’s been an ambassador for On Our Sleeves at the hospital and through social media.
Nationwide Children’s has seen a hunger for more children’s behavioral health resources in the year since On Our Sleeves launched, and we have even more resources in the works. We have been inspired by Ryan and Christina Day, by the Harlem Globetrotters, by Ashley Eckstein and by so many others who have seen the hunger too and stepped forward to help.
One year ago we planted the seeds. On this World Mental Health Day, I am honored to see the On Our Sleeves movement is not only taking root. . .it is thriving.
CEO, Nationwide Children's Hospital