Mental Health Innovation Foundation Breaks Ground on Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at Children’s and Releases a First Look at Future Building
Center to be world-class, creating campus with continuum of mental, physical care for children and teens
OMAHA, NE – The Mental Health Innovation Foundation (MHIF), led by community leader and philanthropist Ken Stinson, begins the construction phase of the Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at Children’s with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, offering a first look at renderings of the future building. As the mental health needs of Omaha area youth increase, the vision of the Center is to create a beacon of hope for children and families providing a collaborative world-class model of comprehensive behavioral and mental health services, co-located with medical health needs.
The need for more mental health services for area youth is clear and sobering. Even before the onset of COVID-19, 1 in 5 children was experiencing a mental illness, and the pandemic has led to increased mental health challenges and suicide risk among children. Nationwide, mental health-related emergency room visits are up 24% among children ages 5 to 11 and 31% among those 12 to 17 years old. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for youths, and, unfortunately, Nebraska exceeds national trends for number of suicide deaths in adolescents ages 15 to 19.
When the new comprehensive mental health facility opens in early 2026, the Center will be a 107,250-square-foot, four-story building with 38 inpatient beds on a seven-acre lot on the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center campus. The project budget is $110 million, funded by donors who recognize the need for expanding children and adolescent mental health services in the Omaha area, along with the State of Nebraska through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City of Omaha, and Children’s.
“It is exciting to break ground and begin the construction phase of the Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at Children’s,” Stinson said. “The collaborative nature of this project and the support of our generous donors have led to innovative plans that will serve the mental health and wellness needs of our children extraordinarily well.” 2 Rev. 08.04.23 The Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at Children’s will offer a seamless continuum of care for children, teens, and families, offering services to address a wide range of mental health challenges. The world-class features of the Center include:
- 38 single occupancy hospital inpatient beds that will more than double the capacity in our community.
- 10,000 square feet Assessment Center that will be a screening and crisis stabilization center for children and families who are facing a broad range of mental health challenges. It will be one of a small number of similar centers in the U.S. and will be the first of its kind in our region.
- a dramatic increase in the current capacity for outpatient Partial Hospitalization treatment in our community. Partial Hospitalization services are a hybrid between inpatient care and periodic outpatient care. Kids in Partial Hospitalization would come to the Center 5 days a week for around 8 hours a day to receive both therapy and educational support. This new facility will have a capacity to serve up to 40 kids at a time.
- an experiential kitchen for patients and families dealing with eating disorders.
- over 14,000 square feet of space for general outpatient therapy and pediatric care.
- nearly 8,000 square feet of shell space to expand or accommodate new programs in the future, including added inpatient beds should the need arise.
“There is no doubt the Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at Children’s will be world-class and have significant value with mental and medical services co-located on the same campus,” said Chanda Chacón, Children’s President & Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to partner with the Mental Health Innovation Foundation to make comprehensive pediatric mental health care a reality for families in our community.”
MHIF seeks to collaboratively address growing mental health challenges in children and teens and convened a community stakeholder steering committee, including Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, CHI Health Immanuel, Boys Town, and Creighton University, among other community organizations, to collaboratively address growing mental health challenges for children and teens. MHIF has selected Kiewit Building Group Inc. as the design-builder of the Center, with HDR as its design partner.