KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is launching a new mental health initiative and asking the community for help as they build funding.

In a news release shared on Monday, Children’s Hospital officials said Tennessee is facing a mental health crisis among children, adolescents and teens with 1 in 5 struggling with mental health concerns.

“Nearly 19% of all children in the state have seriously considered suicide,” Taylor Crosby, public relations manager for ETCH states in an email. “Critical cases like these are what we see most often in the Pilot Emergency Care Center at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.”

The new designated fund to support and ensure the hospital’s commitment to providing world-class care to its mental and behavioral health patients.

“Every dollar donated to the Mental Health Initiative Fund will help grow programs
which expand our reach and provide direct support to patients,” Adam Cook, vice president
for Institutional Advancement at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, said. “It was created to
specifically address the growing mental health crisis seen in our community.”

According to a news release, the Mental Health Initiative Fund is designed to support current initiatives and needs at Children’s Hospital and help enhance education, assessment tools, programs and access.

Children’s Hospital needs the community’s help to combat the mental health crisis affecting children across Tennessee; with officials encouraging everyone to visit to donate to our Mental Health Initiative Fund and support the care Children’s Hospital is providing every day.

According to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, there are currently 130 physical locations for Behavioral Health Safety Net for Children, or BHSN, which provides essential outpatient mental health services to Tennesseans ages three to 17 who don’t have insurance coverage or lack full behavioral health coverage. The state says there are no limits on family income for eligibility and these services are community-based, and inpatient care is not covered. The BHSN of TN is administered through contracts with Community Mental Health Agencies across the state.