Children's Wisconsin awarded $2.5M grant for pediatric behavioral health crisis team

WAUWATOSA -- The United Health Foundation has awarded Children's Wisconsin with a grant, establishing a behavioral health crisis team in the emergency department amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic can take a major toll on kids' mental health. A new program at Children's Wisconsin could help with those struggles.

Amy Herbst

"They're having some really serious anxiety, serious depression, some suicidal ideation and sadly some suicide attempts as well," said Amy Herbst with Children's Wisconsin. "We will be able to have a response team available in the emergency department for kids and families that are experiencing mental or behavioral health issues."

The United Health Foundation's $2.5 million grant is part of a partnership that was planned before COVID-19. It is critical now more than ever.

"Other kids are experiencing some other traumas and some other stressors at home because of what their parents or other family members are going through," said Herbst.

Children's Wisconsin

Available 24/7, the behavioral health crisis team will consist of a psychiatrist, three mental and behavioral health social workers, a supervisor and a navigator.

"The navigator," Herbst said, "is going to stay connected to those families until those families tell us, 'yes we do have what we need now going forward.'"

With most of the team already in place, Children's Wisconsin is able to be more responsive to kids dealing with a mental health crisis.

The team is the first, urgent mental health system of care dedicated to pediatric patients in southeast Wisconsin. Children's Wisconsin estimates the team will support 800 children per year.