MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – On Tuesday, June 7, Children’s Minnesota welcomed Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to its St. Paul hospital to tour construction of the health system’s first inpatient mental health unit. Following the tour, Gov. Walz ceremonially signed mental health legislation that included a bill providing 22 bed licenses for the unit, expected to serve kids and teens this fall.
“This is a big step in the right direction when it comes to addressing mental health in Minnesota,” said Governor Walz. “Children, families, and providers need this support to respond to and prevent crises. These investments will provide more accessible resources for aspiring providers, clinics and hospitals, schools, adult day programs, and children across the state. I am proud of the bipartisan effort to prioritize the health of Minnesotans.”
Annually, the new unit is expected to care for more than 1,000 children and adolescents, meeting the urgent mental health needs of the most vulnerable kids in Minnesota and the region. It will be the first psychiatric inpatient unit in the east metro to serve kids under 12 years old, and one of few in the state to be able to care for kids with more complex medical conditions.
“We’re grateful the legislature and Governor Walz recognized the urgent moment we are in when it comes to the mental health of our kids and teens,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO at Children’s Minnesota. “As an exclusively pediatric health system, Children’s Minnesota is uniquely positioned to care for the most vulnerable children in our community. We recognized that now was the time to add inpatient mental health services. However, the new unit is just one piece of our vision to provide the full continuum of mental health services tailored for kids – and making that care accessible and equitable to all kids in our community.”
The policy provision providing the additional bed licenses was originally authored by Representative Kaohly Her (DFL-Saint Paul) and Senator Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake).
“I am grateful to Children’s Minnesota for its commitment to addressing the mental health crisis among kids,” said Rep. Her. “Having a unit like this at Children’s Minnesota will allow kids with acute mental health needs and complex medical conditions to receive the high-quality, comprehensive care they need.”
This is a major milestone in achieving Children’s Minnesota’s vision to provide the full continuum of mental health services tailored for kids in the region. The organization has already invested heavily in providing more accessible mental health services, including:
- Integrating behavioral health care into all Children’s Minnesota primary care clinics, which allows families access to on-site mental and behavioral health specialists even during routine doctor appointments.
- Opening a mental health day-program for teensat its specialty center at Lakeville. The outpatient program allows teens to receive intensive mental health care during the day and return home with their families on evenings and weekends.
- Partnering with Washburn Center for Children, which will provide specialized support in transitioning kids to less intensive mental health services.
In addition, Children’s Minnesota plans to open a second mental health day-program by early 2023. Construction is expected to begin next month.