When Iker started high school, he joined a school-based youth coalition that advocates against drug use. He was proud to have a bigger purpose: helping kids who need good guidance and role modeling. While working with the coalition, a school counselor recognized that Iker also could benefit from intensive services and referred him to BayCare’s Community Action Team (CAT), which provides wrap around services for kids at high risk for adverse outcomes like hospitalization or out-of-home placement.
During the virtual meetings, which were part of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Family Advocacy Week, Iker and his guardian, Sharon Schmidt, joined BayCare Behavioral Health Services Vice President Gail Ryder, BayCare Behavioral Health Director of Clinical Operations Tracey Kaly and leaders from St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in meeting with U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kathy Castor, Darren Soto and Greg Steube. They will meet with Congressman Charlie Crist next week, and are hopeful to also meet with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.
Together, they asked Congress to advance more impactful policies that improve access to mental health services for children and families in Tampa Bay and Florida.
"We’re worried about the pandemic’s long-term impact on mental health in children. We’re already beginning to see a surge in post-traumatic stress disorder," said Ryder. "That’s not to say that adults aren’t also suffering, but many of our kids are just lost."
From April to October 2020, hospitals nationally saw a 24% increase in the proportion of mental health emergency department visits for kids ages 5 to 11, and a 31% increase in the 12- to 17-year-old age group, compared to 2019 according to the CDC. St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is seeing an explosion in volume and acuity of mental health needs with increased inpatient admissions for serious suicide attempts.
About St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital
As Tampa’s only dedicated children’s hospital, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is committed to providing everything needed for the health and well-being of children. Part of the BayCare Health System, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital provides more acute medical and surgical pediatric care than all other hospitals in Tampa Bay. From the tiniest baby to the high school quarterback, patients are cared for by doctors who specialize in treating children, in surroundings designed exclusively for kids.
BayCare is a leading not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 15 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and west central Florida regions. Inpatient and outpatient services include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness. Our mission is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. For more information, visit www.BayCare.org.
SOURCE BayCare Health System
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