The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago has announced a $15 million gift from the Pritzker Foundation in support of efforts to increase access to mental health services for children and youth.
The hospital will use the gift to expand a program that, in a primary care context, helps pediatricians better assess and treat mild to moderate conditions such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Portions of the gift also will support efforts to recruit more faculty, improve the quality of resident and fellow training programs, and support behavioral health research. In recognition of the gift, the child and adolescent psychiatry division will be renamed the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
"In Illinois, almost 20 percent of children have a mental health problem before graduating from high school and only half have been in treatment," said John Walkup, who heads the hospital's child and adolescent psychiatry department. "One vital way to meet this need is for mental health providers to train their pediatric colleagues to identify and treat children with common mental health conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression as part of primary care. This way we can intervene early in life before these children develop more severe problems."
"We are excited by Dr. Walkup's vision for a new approach to the growing demand for these services, and we see this as an opportunity for Lurie Children's to develop a best-in-class program," said Michael Pucker, Gigi Pritzker's husband and a member of Lurie Children's board of directors. "Our family has dealt with its share of mental health issues, and we have been committed to mental health research for more than fifty years."