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Lighting the Path Forward for Mental Health

Caring for more children in mental health crisis than any time in our history 

The statistics are alarming and rising, made worse by the pandemic. Our most vulnerable populations are at greater risk. Local families and primary care providers are turning to Children’s Mercy for hope and answers.

More than 15 million children need mental health services, but only 30-50 percent receive care. Illuminate is our plan to address this unprecedented youth mental health crisis and help light the path forward.

Taking Actions for Kids

Access to the right care can protect a child and give another family more time with their own loved one. Children’s Mercy is taking action – leveraging nationally-recognized pediatric expertise and investment from our community to transform care for children.

Illuminate is an ambitious, five-year plan lighting the path forward for the youth mental health crisis by increasing access to evidence-based treatment with specific focus on equity for our most vulnerable populations.


illuminate 5 year plan title graphic

Facilitate Early Intervention

Integrate mental health care services in the frontline of care – pediatrician offices, schools, home – to prevent youth from reaching a mental health emergency.

  • Mental Health Integration in Primary Care
  • School-based Programs
  • Care Coordination: Intake, Triage & Navigation 
  • Behavioral Therapy Services 

Increase Specialty Services

Increase timely access for all kids through an easy-to-navigate system, with a focus on improved health equity for our most vulnerable populations.

  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Rapid Diagnosis 

Invest in Research & Innovation

Advance research to broaden our knowledge and practice of evidence-based care, leading to data-driven treatments and innovations.

  • Research & Innovation
    • Precision dosing for mental health medication
    • Ensuring equity in care
    • Parent education 
    • Safety plan app
    • Clinician education 

Expand Hospital Care

Care for kids needing urgent mental health care by expanding the types of in-hospital services and beds available.

  • Inpatient Psychiatric Campus 
  • Emergency Mental Health Crisis Center
  • Partial Hospital Program
  • Integrated Inpatient Care Unit

Our $150 Million Philanthropic Vision

Investment from the community will fully activate Illuminate, ensuring tens of thousands of children have access to best-in-class mental health care. Pediatric mental health services are not reimbursed by insurance like other types of care. Your investment will ensure we can provide the critically important care children need while advocating for better reimbursement rates in the future to achieve long-term sustainability.


Elizabeth's story

Every day, dozens of children come to the Emergency Department at Children’s Mercy due to a behavioral health crisis. Children like Elizabeth. Her story shows us why Children's Mercy continues to work towards helping address the mental health needs in the community. 

Sources: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 2018,  2. Children’s Mercy Behavioral Health Business Plan Final March 21, 2022, page 38. 3. Children’s Mercy Behavioral Health Business Plan Final March 21, 2022, page 31. 4. Children’s Mercy Integrated Care Solutions Data Warehouse. CMICS Medicaid / Commercial Payer claims (behavioral health outpatient encounters  5. R. Johnson, Developmental and Behavioral Health & K. Worland, Child and Family Mental Health Services, Children’s Mercy Kansas City. 6. Whitney, D. G., & Peterson, M. D. (2019). US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children. JAMA pediatrics, 173(4), 389–391.