WHY I RIDE ... AND WHY I'M RAISING $25,000 FOR PEDIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH AT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL COLORADO
Mental health is a big part of the reason why I became a fundraiser for Children's Hospital Colorado 21 years ago. I was navigating my own mental health journey as were a few close friends and family members. A few of us were lucky enough to get the right help at the right time to manage our medical condition. But today, so many kids in our state are not so fortunate: 1 in 5 kids are living with a diagnosable mental health illness but less than 50% will ever receive the appropriate treatment. Here are a few sobering facts:
- Suicide is still the leading cause of death for those who are 10-24 years old in Colorado - nearly double the national average
- We saw a 72% increase in mental health visits in 2021 compared to 2019 and a 215% increase in suicide plans/attempts in our ED; 50% of these kids were in a mental health crisis
- Over the last decade, Colorado lost 1,000 residential treatment beds for kids
- A 29-42% turnover in the mental health workforce in our state is just one of the reasons why waitlists for our patients are running 6-12 months for outpatient services
- In 2021, our President and CEO, Jena Hausmann, declared a State of Emergency for youth mental health and brought Dr. Ron-Li Liaw, the first ever pediatric Mental Health In-Chief to our hospital to develop a transformational, strategic vision over the next 5 years to advance a youth and family-centered, coordinated system of mental health care with collaborative partners ensuring equitable access to high-quality, evidence-based care and prevention.