Skip to main content

Mental Health Care: Lighting the Path Forward

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.

Graphic with several statistics regarding mental health in youth. Nationally, 1  in 5 children ages 3 to 17 have a mental heath disorder. Locally, only 166  child/adolescent inpatient psychiatric beds within 45 miles. Locally, zero beds  designated psychiatric beds for children with comorbid medical complexities or  ASD/ID/DD. At Children’s Mercy, there has been a 67% increase in referrals since 2017,  and 2,932 youth were assessed in ER for acute mental health needs in 2022. 40-50%  of youth in our region with a mental health disorder are untreated. 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.

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.

Light the path forward

Join us!

Your gift today will light the path forward bringing hope and the prospect of brighter tomorrows to children and their families. 

Donate to light the path forward

Children's Mercy is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

Do you own a local business? In May, join together with the local community to give back while you shop, dine and more.

 Amount Raised to Date: $82.3 million dollars with thanks to 1,581 donors.

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.