Lurie Children's Receives $15M Grant From Pritzker Foundation To Fund Pediatric Mental Health Services

Lisa Fielding
May 06, 2019 - 1:24 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is expanding its mental health services.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday at Lurie Children’s Hospital for the newly-named Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. The Pritzker Foundation announced a $15 million grant, that will be used to fund pediatric mental health services.

"This gift will be transformational for us," said Dr. John Walkup.

He said across the country there is a huge shortage of mental health providers who specialize in children.

"We also will be able to hire new faculty. We are going to be able to train our resident fellows and work with our pediatric residents to train them to be the workforce of the future," Dr. Walkup said.

Dr. John Walkup
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Dr. Walkup said in Illinois almost 20 percent of children have a mental health problem before graduating from high school. Only half of those children have received treatment.

“One vital way to meet this need is for mental health providers to train their pediatric colleagues to identify and treat children with common mental health conditions such as ADHD, anxiety and depression as part of primary care. This way we can intervene early in life before these children develop more severe problems," he said in a statement.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday at Lurie Children’s Hospital for the newly-named Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there are only 8,300 child psychiatrists and 15 million children in need; that is one mental health provider for every 1,800 youth who need services.

"With our current resources we will never be able to treat all the kids who need us. This gift allows us to ‘work smart’ and to reach more kids," Dr. Walkup said.

Dr. Walkup and his colleagues are working closely with Lurie Children’s staff to screen, diagnose, and treat behavioral health issues. His program makes behavioral health a part of every patient’s assessment and care.