What We're Doing

Because mental health touches everything and because it is just as important as physical health, we incorporate research about behavioral health and care across our entire health system.

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“Early intervention can save lives and improve the quality of life for many children and families facing mental health conditions.”

Here are just a few of the ways we are addressing mental health needs for all of our patients:

  • Depression screenings in our 13 Primary Care Centers
  • Integrated behavioral health specialists in select Primary Care Centers
  • Support groups and counseling for patients with chronic health conditions
  • Dedicated therapist in the Adolescent Medicine Substance Abuse Program

Research is essential to improving existing early intervention strategies and developing new ones.

By collaborating with schools and community groups, we are able to support the implementation of evidence-based strategies and learn how they can be improved. PAX Good Behavior Game and Signs of Suicide (SOS) are two examples.

We’re working with schools to implement PAX Good Behavior Game, a research-based program that focuses on age-appropriate strategies for managing behavior in classrooms. In Columbus City School classrooms that use the program, we have seen a 50 percent reduction in suspensions and up to 70 percent reduction in disruptive and inattentive behaviors.

Signs of Suicide is another evidence-based program aimed to educate and support school staff and students in advocating for students who may be at risk for suicide. John Ackerman, PhD, Glenn Thomas, PhD, Elizabeth Cannon, MA, and Jeff Bridge, PhD, are studying the implementation of the program in schools across central and southwestern Ohio. Early analysis of the results indicates improved self-reported staff confidence and awareness of resources for at-risk youth.

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s is a Top 10 NIH-Funded Research Institution. Here, among our many research endeavors, behavioral health research is integrated across many centers.

For example, Deena Chisolm, PhD, in the Center for Population Health and Equity Research, recently received a grant from Thirty One Gifts to study how teens, particularly females, use health information found online. Research shows that many girls seek out various health information -- including mental health -- but don’t necessarily feel comfortable implementing what they find. Dr. Chisolm’s research aims to develop a solution to the challenge.

In the Center for Biobehavioral Health, researchers are working to identify which children and families may be at risk for mental health conditions. Once those subgroups are identified, researchers in the center use their findings to design behavioral interventions that can be evaluated in clinical trials. Behavioral genetics, biological responses to stress and neuroimaging are just a handful of areas that may help identify individuals at risk for certain problems and help inform how we can intervene, says Cynthia Gerhardt, PhD, psychologist and director of the Center.

In the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research, researchers are working to understand the factors involved in non-fatal suicidal behaviors and suicide. Jeff Bridge, PhD, epidemiologist and director of the center, and his team have published many studies that have illuminated new opportunities for intervention. Examples include finding previously hidden racial disparities in suicide trends of young children and discrepancies between suicide rates among rural and urban children.

Quality improvement science can transform care and improve outcomes.

Nationwide Children’s has long been a national leader in quality improvement science. Our dedication to continuously developing systems and processes extends to every area of care. In behavioral health, we are committed to implementing evidence-based improvements.

Our quality improvement strategies don’t just impact the children in our facilities. Through publications, collaborations and presentations at national meetings, we are national -- and even international -- leaders in quality care.

Through our culture of collaboration, quality, research and care, we’re developing an environment where research can flourish. Whether it is lab-based research to better understand the genomics of behavioral health or how medications may affect the brain or a clinical trial to determine which treatment strategy is the most effective, we understand research in all forms from many experts will ultimately bring the change we desire for kids everywhere.

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