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Camber Children's Mental Health

The Rising Mental Health Crisis: Bridging the Gap by Increasing Access to Care

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and here at Camber Children’s Mental Health, we’re raising awareness about how the rising mental health crisis has impacted young people in our communities. We’re sharing how we’re leading the way to deliver hope and compassionate treatment to children and their families and what you can do to help make a difference for the children in your community.

The Rising Mental Health Crisis

It’s a shocking statistic: according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 50% of all mental health challenges occur by the age of 14. That already staggering statistic spikes to 75% by the age of 24. This demonstrates a correlation between the adolescent and teen years and mental health struggles. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than 48,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide in 2021 and there were an estimated 1.7 million suicide attempts. Suicide has become a major public health issue. Families across the United States are in crisis as suicide has become the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 34.

Today mental illness does not always have the same visibility and funding as physical illness, but it is no less impactful. Breaking down stigma is crucial to ensuring people receive the care they urgently need. According to Mental Health America, more than one in every ten youth in the United States experience depression that is severe enough to impact their ability to function at school, at work, at home and socially.

May is mental health awareness month

What’s Driving the Mental Health Crisis in America?

There are many elements of our lives influencing our mental health. There isn’t just one experience or characteristic that determines the type of mental health we will have. It’s a combination of many factors that make up our lives, such as genetics, past positive and negative experiences, our childhood and brain development, life hardships, current circumstances and more. Similarly, there are many larger trends and contemporary stressors playing a part in the growing mental health crisis.

teenage girl on phone in school hallwayFor instance, global and national events like the 2020 pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis may be contributing factors. Another possible cause is the increased social isolation of our society today. Today, more people are working from home or attending school virtually and preferring to spend more time online than engaging socially. A national epidemic of loneliness has been declared in light of this isolation. Social media and the prevalence of screens and smartphones have added another layer to the crisis, particularly heightening struggles among children and teens.

Another driver of the crisis is the lack of resources. Across the country, there aren’t enough resources for mental health treatment to keep up with the increasing needs. More than half of Americans live in an area with a shortage of mental health professionals.

The State of Mental Health in Adolescents and Teens

The mental health crisis in America has a particularly significant impact on adolescents and teens. While the pandemic seemed to bring this issue into the public eye, it was a growing problem for more than a decade beforehand. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, feelings of persistent hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and behaviors are increasing by 40% among American youth. Children as young as five years old are facing mental health challenges from ADHD to depression and anxiety.

The State of Mental Health in Kansas 

While the mental health crisis is prevalent all across the United States, in Kansas it’s unfortunately even worse. The state ranks the lowest on the list for adult mental health. This shows a high prevalence of mental illness amongst Kansas residents and very low access to care. This demonstrates a serious need for mental health services and support to be expanded for current and future generations—something we’re passionate about providing at Camber. Read more below and in this recent blog to learn how we’re addressing rising adult mental health needs in Kansas.

How Camber is Making a Positive Impact

Portrait of teenage girl sharing feelings in support group circle for childrenThe mental health field is ever-evolving as we discover better ways to support those in need and seek new ways to provide access to high-quality mental healthcare. Our impact at Camber in the last year alone has been extensive. We’ve provided much-needed therapy and treatment to over 4,200 youth admitted to our hospitals and residential treatment centers in Kansas City, Wichita and Hays, KS. All while empowering parents and guardians to better care for their child’s needs post-discharge.

Over the last five years, Camber has opened new children’s mental health hospitals, adapted to the changing healthcare landscape and continuously hired more mental health professionals to ensure proper care is available to every client right when and where they need it. Here are some of the highlights of Camber’s growth over the last half-decade:

2019: Wichita Hospital Opening

Camber WichitaFive years ago, Camber (then called KVC Hospitals) opened a new children’s mental health hospital in Wichita. This expanded access to mental health services in response to a growing number of children and families from Sedgwick County being referred to out-of-area facilities as a result of limited local resources and capacity.

2022: Rebranding to Camber Children’s Mental Health

We officially changed our name from KVC Hospitals to Camber Children’s Mental Health in 2022. Why Camber? The English word “Camber” means “arch or bridge”. This reflects how we work to build a bridge to better days for the children and families we serve. We are deeply committed to developing meaningful connections with every child in order to positively impact their quality of life. Camber reflects this dedication and heart for the children and teens we serve.

2023: Camber Hays Opening

Camber HaysTo address bed shortages across the state, our new campus in Hays in western Kansas opened at the beginning of 2023, empowering us to serve over 600 more children each year than we could previously. We also began offering acute inpatient children’s mental health services in addition to residential treatment services in this area. Allowing us to better meet the needs of youth experiencing mental health emergencies.

Late 2024: Olathe Mental Wellness Campus Opening

Children's Mercy Olathe + Camber Mental Health Mental Wellness Campus for Youth and Adults in Olathe, KS, opening late 2024 - KVC Health Systems

To address the urgent mental health crisis, we announced last year that two leading healthcare organizations – our parent organization KVC Health Systems and Children’s Mercy Kansas City – have partnered to expand inpatient pediatric and adult mental health treatment capacity and access in the greater Kansas City area and across the region. The joint venture partners will open a $53 million, 72-bed mental health hospital in Olathe, KS in late 2024. 

We’re now more than halfway done building this beautiful, world-class hospital. This location will provide life-saving care to both youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis. Camber will staff and operate the hospital using our 30 years of expertise in specialized mental and behavioral healthcare, while also leveraging our adult mental health treatment expertise. Camber’s trauma-informed, neuroscience-driven inpatient mental health treatment model, combined with Children’s Mercy’s world-class pediatric care, research and community engagement, will elevate mental health and community health outcomes for decades to come.

The new hospital will serve as an inpatient mental health healing campus. This includes three separate 24-bed units with 48 pediatric beds and 24 adult beds. Additionally, there will be six private courtyards, walking paths, and dining and activity spaces. The design and healing environment center around staff and patient safety, supportive care, patient wellness and connection with nature.

The Olathe hospital is the capstone in KVC’s regional mental health model. Once all philanthropic support is secured, generous donors will have contributed more than $75 million to partner with us in providing life-saving care by opening three new Camber hospitals since 2019 in Wichita, Hays and Olathe, serving all of Kansas and the Kansas City metro.

This Olathe project is supported by the Sunderland Foundation, the State of Kansas and many other private donors. It is funded in part by federal award number SLFRP 1176, awarded to the State of Kansas by the U.S. Department of Treasury. 

How YOU Can Make an Impact

Adorable little african american boy with curly hair having fun at pediatric specialist appointment, happy child drawing with female therapist, exercises.Camber’s positive impact doesn’t start when a child or teen walks through the doors of our treatment centers. It begins with you! It begins with all of those who work for the Camber network of mental health treatment centers and those who are donating to help make these crucial services available to more children, adults and families. People like you help make it possible to save lives every day. Please consider getting involved by donating or applying for a career at Camber to become part of the solution! Between now and the end of 2024, we will be posting more career opportunities as we create over 175 new jobs in the metro area.


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