New Inpatient Psych Unit Opens

“I remember looking around at all the faces, and seeing love and support looking back at me,” said Reilly Claxton, now 17, remembering her first visit to Children’s National.

 Reilly was 14 years old and struggling with severe depression and anxiety. Due to the expert and compassionate care of the team at Children’s National, Reilly is now thriving. She graduated a year early from high school, is excelling in community college, and applying to four-year colleges.

Reilly shared her story at the opening of the newly renovated Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry Unit on Feb. 23, expressing gratitude for the staff and excitement for the new unit to be able to “save the lives of more kids like Children’s National saved mine.”

Data shows that 1-in-5 U.S. teens will struggle with a mental health issue, and fewer than that will receive treatment.

“When I consider what’s needed to help kids grow up stronger, mental and behavioral health is one of my top priorities,” said Kurt Newman, MD, president and CEO of Children’s National. “By bringing medical breakthroughs from the laboratory to a child’s bedside faster and more efficiently, our team of medical experts and neuroscientists will pioneer integrated approaches and transform how we care for children with disorders of the mind and brain.”

The new unit’s design balances the latest safety features and monitoring with a comforting and welcoming feel. Patients enjoy tranquil, nature-themed murals lining the walls with scenes of forests, seascapes, and meadows. The unit also features an exercise room with treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines; multi-purpose rooms for educational and therapeutic programs; and classrooms.

This key renovation was supported by philanthropy, including the remarkable efforts of world marathoner Jonathan Terrell, who has committed to raising $1 million for pediatric mental health efforts at Children’s National. By completing the World Marathon Challenge — seven marathons in seven days on seven continents — Jonathan reached his monetary goal of $250,000 to enhance the unit renovation and continues to raise awareness for mental health. He hopes to help “remove the stigma about mental illness that persists through generations by promoting better, healthier conversations among families in our community and around the world.”

Children’s National hopes to secure additional philanthropic funding for four critical positions to our inpatient team, including an additional social worker and psychologist, a special education teacher, and an autism behavior specialist. We also aim to secure funding to improve how we care for the influx of children experiencing psychiatric crises in our Emergency Department (ED). Over the past two years, the number of kids visiting the ED with mental health challenges has increased 102 percent.

A new outpatient facility will soon open at the old Takoma Theatre as a dedicated space for mental and behavioral health treatment. Psychiatry, psychology, and neuropsychology will come together in this one space to optimize collaborative, multidisciplinary treatment and evaluation of children and adolescents.

To learn how you can help support psychiatric care for kids and teens at Children's National, please contact Morgan Milner at [email protected] or 301-565-4275.

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