Children’s Minnesota to open inpatient mental health center in 2022

Children’s Minnesota plans to open an inpatient mental health center at its St. Paul hospital, the health system announced Monday.

Children’s Minnesota expects to open the center in the second half of 2022 to address "the urgent mental health needs of the most vulnerable kids" in Minnesota, a release states.

The center will be the first in the east metro to help children under the age of 12 and one of a few in the state to admit all children, including those with complex medical conditions.

"It’s heartbreaking to continue seeing a rising demand for mental health services among our youth, with many children and teens spending days in emergency rooms waiting for a psychiatric bed to open up," Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota, said in a statement. "As the kid experts, it’s our duty at Children’s Minnesota to address this crisis and support families with the full spectrum of pediatric resources they need."

The center will include 22 private rooms that will allow parents or guardians to stay overnight with their child. The center’s design will also have access to the outdoors, natural light and sensory-friendly spaces. A team of psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, nurses and expressive arts therapists will staff the center.

The announcement Monday follows on the heels of the report this summer that Children’s Minnesota will offer new programs via a Children’s Minnesota Specialty Center in Lakeville to improve access to teen mental health treatment as COVID-19 exacerbates a mental health crisis among children and teens.

"The stress and isolation caused by the pandemic has made the need for mental health care greater than ever," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "We’re committed to expanding access to that care for our kids, and I applaud Children’s Minnesota for their commitment to ensuring all our children have somewhere to turn for help."

The new center is part of an overall plan to create a "mental health hub" on the St. Paul campus, which already houses the following centers and services: Developmental Pediatrics, the Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Psychiatry, Psychology, Neuropsychology, and Integrated Behavior Health, among others.