Youth Mental Health Center opens in Grove City, Ohio

GROVE CITY, Ohio (WCMH) — Two of Columbus’s largest youth caretakers are teaming up to open a state-of-the-art facility to house children recovering from mental illness.

On Jan. 10, The Buckeye Ranch and Nationwide Children’s Hospital announced their plans to make a first move this spring at a 48-bed mental health treatment center in Grove City to strengthen the support network for youth with mental health issues, according to Vickie Thompson-Sandy , president and CEO of The Buckeye Ranch.

“With isolation and fear and losses that many young people have experienced (during the pandemic), it has really exacerbated the increase in mental health needs that we are seeing, and so this residential facility is a solution, a solution, to that increased need” , Thompson – said Sandy.

The 57,000-square-foot facility, which will open in 2025, will complement The Buckeye Ranch’s existing Grove City campus at 5665 Hoover Road. Most of the residents will be children transitioning from a hospital stay but not quite ready to return home.

The new center is a step down from inpatient psychiatric care and is designed to give young people extra time to stabilize before returning to their communities — a way to avoid back-to-back visits to a hospital’s emergency room, said Thompson Sandy.

“That doesn’t build good care for our youth, so this allows that continuum to fill that gap,” she said.

For Sheri Dunagan, downtown is a welcome addition to Grove City. Dunagan, a longtime resident who works as the town’s business and community relations specialist, said she and her husband spent years scouring the complex web of mental health services seeking help for three of her five children — all of whom have now recovered.

She said that after an emergency room visit, she was given a long list of phone numbers to call to address her child’s suicidal thoughts, leaving her overwhelmed and confused about where to go.

“You make all those calls and meanwhile all my kid was talking about is hurting himself. What am I supposed to do for those two weeks?” Dunagan said. “We just have to hang on and pray, and it never worked.”

“I’m so excited that the family struggling with this in the future will be able to go somewhere after that visit,” she said.

In the early stages of addressing her children’s mental health needs, Dunagan said she and her husband “kept it a secret” apart from family. It wasn’t until her daughter, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, asked Dunagan to stand in front of her 6th grade class to explain the illness.

“There are so many families struggling with it, and generations of ‘Keep it quiet, don’t tell anyone, keep it to yourself, don’t cry in public, work through it,'” Dunagan said. “But the biggest piece of advice I have? You are not as alone as you think.”

The new Buckeye Ranch and Nationwide facility will provide psychiatric and medical services, Thompson-Sandy said, and will feature an education center, recreation rooms and a slew of other activities for the youth residents.

“The young people we serve who have the most complex mental health needs don’t really see any hope for their future when they’re at the stage of self-harm or suicidal thoughts,” Thompson-Sandy said. “Our mission is about restoring that hope and providing healing to children, so that’s really what we’re trying to do.”

Visit The Buckeye Ranch’s Vimeo account to watch a fly-through video with suggested views of the center.

Youth Mental Health Center opens in Grove City, Ohio

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