November 27, 2021
Wolfson Children's Hospital has launched a mental health program for children

Photo: Bob Self/USA Today Network

Wolfson's director of education and training, Francesca Varallo Sims, talks about the "On Our Sleeves" campaign with President Michael Aubin and Terrie Andrews, clinical psychologist and administrator.

Economic Backbone - Pediatrics

Wolfson Children's Hospital has launched a mental health program for children

Laura Hampton | 7/30/2021

Wolfson Children’s Hospital has launched a mental health program for children in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The On Our Sleeves campaign provides educational tools to adults to enable them to better converse with children and teens about their mental health.

Dr. Terrie Andrews, clinical psychologist and administrator for Baptist and Wolfson Children’s Behavioral Health, says health care providers have noticed a significant increase in children being admitted to the emergency room for mental health crises. The problem began before the COVID-19 pandemic, but since March 2020, the numbers have increased dramatically.

“We’ve seen a 200% increase in children under 13 in the emergency room,” Andrews says. “In 2018, it was virtually non-existent for that age.”

Clinicians speculate many factors have caused the rise in cases. A few of those factors include the disruption of a structured lifestyle, the stress of adjusting to a virtual learning environment and the isolation children have experienced from friends and peer groups.

“The most common diagnoses are depression and anxiety,” Andrews says. “We have seen more intentional overdoses on different substances in the home. We have also seen eating behavior changes.”

Developed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the On Our Sleeves campaign is based on the concept that children do not wear their thoughts on their sleeve. The program provides resources to adults, and for children, it provides a vocabulary — through games, coloring books and an emoji-coded mood meter — to help them express themselves.

 

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