INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health has stopped accepting children at the inpatient behavioral health unit focused on helping Indiana’s at risk-youth.
In 2016, Riley Hospital unveiled the $3.8 million Simon-Skjodt Behavioral Health Center. At the time, the 20-bed unit doubled the number of patients Riley could help. The center allowed for more care for children with anxiety, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. There were also safe rooms for children who might harm themselves.
We attended the opening of the center and at the time people told us having this resource available to the community was a treasure and that it would set children on a path to a better life.
However, the unit has now been suspended. While the hospital didn’t elaborate on the reason, it did release a statement:
“Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health prides itself on excellence of care. Dedicated behavioral health services for Hoosier children are important for the long-term health of our state. As such, we are taking this time to assess our community's needs to assure that the right services are in place to help children thrive and adjust our care structure accordingly. The assessment will look as such issues as demand for inpatient pediatric behavioral health and the best use of Riley care resources. While inpatient behavioral health programs currently have been suspended, our multidisciplinary care team continues to offer a full range of pediatric mental health services, and patients in need of inpatient behavioral health care continue to be cared for by our community partner resources.”
According to Indiana Youth Institute Kids Count data, this comes at a time when one in five Indiana high school students said they’ve seriously considered suicide.
“It shows there’s a need for services,” said Julie Bingham, executive director of Indiana Center for Children and Families.
Bingham says the suspension of Riley’s unit doesn’t mean Hoosier children are out of luck. There are several other agencies that are able to work with them. She says parents know their child best; inpatient care is necessary for severe cases.
“People might think they have ADHD, when really, in fact, they may be an anxious child, or they may have some sort of trauma that hasn’t been disclosed,” said Bingham, “Trauma and mental health look really similar. If a parent has any type of feeling that something is not right or if this behavior isn’t OK or my child is withdrawn, or they are saying things that don’t seem right, that’s when to call.”
Bingham says, in Indiana, there are 700 children for every one mental health provider.
“There’s definitely a lack of services,” she says, “[But] there is hope and there are places that are available for them to go and to seek help.”
If you are looking for mental health services, click here.
The Indiana Center for Children and Families or Mental Health America Indiana can help connect you to the resources your family needs.