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New Inpatient Unit At Children's Institute Focuses On 'Mind, Body And Spirit'

Children's Institute of Pittsburgh

As mental health awareness among young people increases, many families are looking for new, innovative ways to help their children. The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh has responded by creating a new inpatient unit focused on a holistic approach for the mind, body and spirit.

Dr. Aileen Oandasan, medical director of behavioral health services for The Children’s Institute, says that the vision for this space stems from parental concerns regarding a need for more behavioral health care services. 

Dr. Oandasan says many children’s health situations warrant a need for more than admittance to a traditional psychiatric unit.

“We want to be able to identify and meet the needs of the children who not only have medical conditions, but who are in acute behavioral crisis,” Dr. Oandasan says.

Dr. Oandasan says 1 in 5 children have been diagnosed with mental illness.  Although therapy sessions can be useful for some children, Dr. Oandasan explains that many families must turn to inpatient care when they come to the realization that they can no longer help their child.

“The parents I have come across do everything in their power to help their children,” Dr. Oandasan says. “But sometimes it’s just not enough.”

As part of the holistic approach to care, Dr. Oandasan says every aspect of treatment is designed to promote a healthy lifestyle, right down to the child’s diet. 

“In order to have healthy children, they have to have healthy bodies,” Dr. Oandasan says.

Most importantly, Dr. Oandasan says treatment must focus on intimate family involvement.  The facility will also feature parent coaching sessions, as well as allow for individual family treatment sessions, something that sets this facility apart from other psychiatric institutions.

“We will not be able to move this child forward without engagement,” Dr. Oandasan, “our families are critical.”

Children ages 4-17 suffering from suicidal, homicidal or aggressive tendencies, as well as other complex mental conditions, are eligible to secure treatment at the facility. The $2.4 million unit is slated to open May 31.

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