BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – In December 2019, a new building opened at the Akron Children’s Hospital campus in Boardman. It focuses on mental and behavioral health. The facility has been open for a year and a half and the need is already growing.
This past week, the name of the building was changed after a $1 million pledge was made to support Akron Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology Department. The “Teegan Kamzelski Building” houses part of the services under the Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology Department.
WYTV Meteorologist Ryan Halicki and his family have a personal connection to the facility as Kamzelski is his nephew. Kamzelski was 24 years old when he took his own life.
Kamzelski’s father, Christopher Thompson, pledged that $1 million to support mental wellness services.
Dr. Steven Jewell, director of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology, says demand for such services continues to grow.
Back in December 2019, WYTV News was given a tour of the Teegan Kamzelski Building as it prepared to open.
“It’s been going strong since we started and we have actually added staff and expanded services,” Dr. Jewell said.
The additions help in the work toward their goal: getting treatment to adolescents as early as possible.
“Statistics say that 20 percent of adolescents have mental illness severe enough to prevent their functioning, but of that group, only 20 percent of them are ever diagnosed and treated in adolescence,” Dr. Jewell said.
The need for services is growing, made very clear by alarming statistics in 2019.
“The Ohio Department of Health indicated that the number one cause of death in children aged 10 to 14 was suicide. That was the first time that suicide passed accidents in the state of Ohio,” Dr. Jewell said.
The hope is this facility can help reverse that trend through treatment, including intensive, highly focused, partial hospitalization, which Dr. Jewell says the facility is the first in the area to offer.
“It’s five days a week, six hours a day program that offers intensive psychotherapy, group therapy and experiential therapies as well — art therapy and yoga, music therapy. Those kind of things that can be very supportive and helpful in addition to individual counseling and family counseling,” Dr. Jewell said.
Patients in the program attend the facility in place of school, typically for a two to three week period.
“We’ve got prescribers of psychiatric medications there, child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Those are often difficult to come by in the community,” Dr. Jewell said.
Not all cases need the partial hospitalization program, but Dr. Jewell says demand for all of their mental wellness services has increased dramatically over the last several months — perhaps partially due to isolation from the pandemic. To meet the needs, they’re already planning further expansion in the region.
“We had a business plan that projected how we would grow and we found that we needed to grow faster than we anticipated in order to meet that need,” Dr. Jewell said.
Upcoming fundraising will benefit the facility in honor of Kamzelski. The hope is that community fundraisers will not only support the work being done but also raise awareness and help end the stigma surrounding mental health.
If you are struggling with thoughts of harming yourself, please reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. If you prefer to text, you can text “4hope” to 741-741.