On Our Sleeves™: Giving a Voice to Children with Mental Illness

Mental illness does not discriminate. People of all ages and walks of life are affected, from friends and family members to work colleagues, young adults and children.

Of all these groups, however, children who live with mental illness are frequently overlooked, and less than half get the treatment they need. Yet one in five children has a significantly impairing mental disorder. And 50 percent of all lifetime mental illnesses start by age 14.

Many experts are calling this a national crisis. At Nationwide Children's Hospital, we are committed to addressing the crisis, because we believe that mental health and physical health are equally important. Unfortunately, children's mental health lacks adequate funding and other resources. Only one child psychiatrist is available for every 15,000 individuals under the age of 18.

Addressing the Need

On Our Sleeves, developed with the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital, is a national movement to transform mental health for children, teens and young adults. Raising awareness is important because we know that identifying and treating mental health issues early in a child's life can lead to a more manageable future for that individual.

We also know children's mental health can present some significant challenges at home and school – and even in the workplace. Parents may need to miss work while caring for a child with mental health concerns just as they would for a child who is physically ill. These workers need the support of their colleagues to deal with an issue that is often difficult to talk about and that may leave them feeling helpless.

A primary goal of the On Our Sleeves movement is to break the silence and stigma surrounding children's mental health. We want to support families by offering free online content and educational resources, as well as conversation starters and tips for friends, families and co-workers who want to offer their support. These valuable resources are designed to encourage advocacy for children's mental health, support families and co-workers, and share information about important research discoveries.

As one of the nation's largest providers of youth mental and behavioral health services, Nationwide Children's Hospital is creating a new model for care. It will include the nine-story Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion, which will be dedicated in March 2020 as the nation's largest facility of its kind on a hospital campus. The pavilion will house a mental health network that includes crisis services, diagnosis, treatment, research and prevention.

We want to make it possible for our experts to expand clinical access, develop and improve prevention efforts, and spearhead research initiatives that increase understanding and advance care. Our clinicians and scientists will share their research discoveries as part of our mission to improve mental health outcomes for children everywhere.

When it comes to children's mental health, many questions remain unanswered. The funding we provide will help uncover those answers, and ultimately transform the lives of children and young adults living with mental illness.

Help us champion the cause. Start today by engaging with customers, associates and partners. Together we can give this issue – and these children – a voice.