Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals helps fund member children’s hospitals so they can provide crucial care to their youngest patients, including mental health.
Nearly 10% of children in the United States experience some form of mental health challenge, according to the CDC, yet only a small number of children dealing with mental health issues receive treatment. These challenges can be made worse when a child experiences a chronic health condition or a series of health challenges, especially if they require frequent hospitalization.
“I think finding an outlet for your emotions is important,” said Ashley, a 16-year-old who has been dealing with multiple chronic health conditions since birth. “Emotionally and mentally, you have to take care of yourself before you’re able to get better physically.”
Mental health is key
Ashley has been playing the cello since she was 5 years old and is in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. “Music helps me express what I’m feeling, and I can put emotions that I’m feeling into the music, which is really helpful,” she said.
The solace Ashley finds in music is crucial to her mental health, because Ashley has been a life-long patient at her local children’s hospital, which is a member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals). “I’ve been through a lot of different specialties because my medical history is so extensive,” she explained. “I’ve been through cardiology, radiology, GI — just a lot of different specialties.”
Ashley’s experience dealing with chronic health conditions has given her an appreciation of the need for mental healthcare for children. “When kids are having medical problems, it’s like, ‘Oh, address the problem in front of you,’” she noted. “But it’s also mentally draining to be going through all these things. So, you need to make sure you are addressing that.”
Ashley’s experiences have led her to become one of CMN Hospitals’ 2023 National Champions, who serve as advocates for the organization and representatives of the children in their local communities, helping to raise awareness. “What I’ve realized over time is that I can’t really heal my physical self if I’m not mentally in that space to heal,” she said. “CMN Hospitals funds can help kids like me and help them get the care that they really need.”
Each year, 12 million kids are treated at member hospitals and rely on philanthropy to advance care, programs and treatment needed in their community. That’s where CMN Hospitals comes in — the organization is dedicated to raising funds for children’s hospitals. CMN Hospitals is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, and in that has raised more than $8.5 billion for member children’s hospitals.
This money allows children’s hospitals to fund what’s needed most in their community. All CMN Hospitals U.S.-based member hospitals provide mental healthcare of some sort, whether it’s clinical care or a service provided at home, at schools, or via telehealth. Just as important, funding from CMN Hospitals helps these hospitals conduct pioneering research, including work regarding mental and emotional health in children.
Ashley’s happy to give back by shining a light on the need for children’s mental healthcare and the impact CMN Hospitals has. “My emotions and how I’m feeling directly impact my physical well-being,” she noted. “It’s just really important to advocate for that and to get more attention there.”