October 2, 2017 - Franciscan Children’s Announces New Mental Health Initiatives with Archdiocese of Boston and McLean Hospital

Franciscan Children’s, a leading provider of pediatric mental health care for children and adolescents in New England, today announced a new initiative with the Archdiocese of Boston and an expansion of their 20-year partnership with McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The collaborations are designed to provide extensive community outreach and a comprehensive continuum of mental health services at Franciscan Children’s and to improve the lives of even more children and families affected by pediatric mental illness.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and mental health advocate Rep. Joe Kennedy III were both on hand for today’s announcements, along with Franciscan Children’s President and CEO John D. Nash, McLean Hospital Chief Medical Officer Joseph Gold, other organizational leadership, clinical staff and the parent of a former patient.

“The risk of a child or adolescent facing a mental health crisis today is staggering and has no cultural, socioeconomic, age or religious boundaries,” said John D. Nash, Franciscan Children’s President and CEO. “We believe that the keys to successful treatment are education, early identification, intervention, effective collaborative care and an engaged team of caregivers. Today, we’re energized by the opportunity to work with the Archdiocese of Boston and McLean Hospital, to reach even more children and adolescents in need than ever before.”

The Franciscan Children’s and Archdiocese of Boston Mental Health Initiative also officially kicked off today with a visit from Cardinal Seán and Franciscan Children’s will present a webinar for Catholic school educators and parents on Oct. 12. Cardinal Seán will also share mental health messaging at select events across the diocese. A Facebook Live event focused on youth mental health for followers of the Archdiocese of Boston is also in the works, along with other digital and social activations, as well as educational events within all parishes and Catholic schools across the diocese. All of these components are intended to reach and educate the large number of people across all ages, socioeconomic levels and cultural backgrounds, including immigrant and refugee populations, who make up the Archdiocese community, about the importance of early identification and intervention to treat mental health problems before they reach the crisis stage.

“We are at a crossroads as a society in addressing the mental health crisis gripping our communities here and across our nation.” said Cardinal Seán. “The Archdiocese of Boston is pleased to have the opportunity to work with Franciscan’s Children’s in this initiative. Working with our parishes and schools, we are going to reach as many young people and families as possible to educate them with the information and support to save lives and provide hope.”     

The McLean-Franciscan Child & Adolescent Mental Health Programs will now include an even wider range of acute residential treatment and day treatment options for children in crisis. Up to 33 children will be served at any one time with the expansion, along with continuing our current Pediatric Inpatient Psychiatric Program. This new venture reflects an expansion that will serve even more children and teenagers in crisis, filling a particular need for mental health care for younger children between the ages of 5 to 14. The existing McLean-Franciscan Pediatric Inpatient Psychiatric Program, which is the largest in the Commonwealth with 32 beds and serves children ages 3-19, will continue to offer expert crisis stabilization for children needing inpatient mental health treatment. All of the joint program components will be housed on the Franciscan Children’s campus.

“McLean is proud to its longstanding collaboration with Franciscan Children’s, where together, we are able to provide services to children and families when they are at their most vulnerable,” said Joseph Gold, MD, Chief Medical Officer for McLean Hospital. “The growth of this program will allow us to serve even more families, while addressing the critical need for more mental health care needs for the youngest residents of Massachusetts,” says McLean Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Joe Gold.

With this expansion, Franciscan Children’s welcomes McLean’s Dr. Anthony Sossong, MD, Medical Director of Acute Residential for the McLean-Franciscan Child & Adolescent Mental Health Programs, as an addition to a joint staff of psychologists, social workers, nurses, teachers, and counselors who combine the expertise of both McLean Hospital and Franciscan Children’s. The full-time staff of psychiatrists and psychologists in the joint program are also all on faculty at Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry.

Later this year, Franciscan Children’s will also complete a renovation of the Acute Residential Program facilities to include a more child and family-friendly environment, new classrooms, new space for the Day Treatment Program, as well as a new playground to complement the existing gym and outdoor field space.

The two collaborations launched today as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), but with the growing need for child and adolescent psychiatric services, Franciscan Children’s hope is that programs like these enhance awareness of mental illness at all times throughout the year.

Key Stats:

  • 1 in 5 youth living in the U.S. have a mental health diagnosis
  • 50 percent of psychiatric disorders begin by age 14
  • 50 percent of those 14 and older living with a mental illness drop out of high school (Source: National Institute of Mental Health.)

“For our children suffering from mental illness, access to health care can not only change lives, but save them. Through this collaboration with Franciscan Children’s and the Archdiocese, we can continue our efforts to end the stigma of mental illness and help our kids receive the treatment they need,” says Congressman Joe Kennedy.

About Franciscan Children’s  

Located in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Franciscan Children’s provides a compassionate and positive environment where children with complex medical, mental health and educational needs receive specialized care from people who are committed to excellence, innovation and family support, so that children can reach their fullest potential and live their best life. Franciscan Children’s is a 2017 Boston Parents Reader’s Choice Family Favorites Award Winner for Mental Health Practices, Learning Disabilities Specialists, and Health and Special Needs Summer Camps. For more information, visit FranciscanChildrens.org, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @FranciscanHFC and Instagram at @franciscanchildrens.