• Mental Health
  • Psychology
  • Suicide Awareness and Prevention

An alarming number of young people are struggling with feelings of helplessness, depression and thoughts of suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data found that nearly one in five children had a mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, but only about 20 percent received care from a specialized mental healthcare provider.

“Talk to your children about their feelings and struggles,” suggested Carla Allan, PhD, division chief of Psychology at Phoenix Children’s. “This is our opportunity to reduce the stigma around reaching out for mental healthcare. By listening, maybe doors will open, and a life can be positively impacted.”

Whether they’re facing trauma from child abuse or loss of a family member or everyday anxiety or unpredictable routines, kids need more support now – among a more significant shortage of children’s mental health resources.

“When I meet kids and learn their stories, there is something so beautiful and vital about each and every soul,” said Dr. Allan. “Every child has a unique ability to change the world, to gift us with something only they can bring. Our youth are our best hope for the future. How can we protect and empower them to grow through tough times?”

Phoenix Children’s wants to ensure that children and families across the region have access to mental healthcare and support – when and where they need it. To that end, Phoenix Children’s is collaborating with our community partners, creating new relationships and expanding educational programs to ensure that kids are cared for quickly, effectively and with compassion in the most appropriate setting.

How to help a child at risk or raise community awareness

The following are a few warning signs of mental distress or illness in children:

  • Avoiding school and/or changes in academic performance
  • Changes in eating habits and/or weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drastic changes in mood or behavior
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Harming oneself or someone else, or talking about it
  • Persistent sadness and/or withdrawal
  • Sudden, overwhelming fears

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

You are not alone. To talk with someone now, call 988. The 988 dialing code offers a convenient way to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 988 from anywhere in the U.S. anytime for free, confidential support. You can also still use the original Lifeline number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Learn more about 988

Phoenix Children’s internal resources and partnerships

Arizona’s Teen Lifeline: Staffed by teens, for teens
1-602-248-8336 (TEEN) – Inside Maricopa County
1-800-248-8336 (TEEN) – Outside Maricopa County

Bridge Clinic: When children come to our Emergency Department (ED) experiencing a mental health crisis, they are stabilized and treated quickly and then referred to the Bridge Clinic, which connects them with the most appropriate community pediatric provider for long-term care. Among the patients treated through the Bridge Clinic, we have seen a marked decrease in return visits to the ED, indicating these patients have received high-quality care and referrals to community-based support.

Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing at Phoenix Children’s: Pediatric experts have found that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect or witnessing violence at home can cause serious, but preventable, complications in children and teens. In some cases, these complications can make it difficult for kids to learn and function well at school or home. Related challenges can lead to substance abuse, addiction, poor health and suicide risk.

The Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing at Phoenix Children’s serves children from ages 1 to 18 who have experienced any kind of ACE. Our pediatric specialists use effective, evidence-based approaches in caring for these children. Services range from educational resources to evaluation, resiliency counseling and multispecialty treatment options. We help kids strengthen their resiliency, which is the ability to face adversity and return to a healthier state.

Injury Prevention ProgramThrough this program, Phoenix Children’s offers many health and safety programs to support families with resources that help prevent injury, including gun safety and suicide prevention.

Crews’n Healthmobile: Thousands of children live on the streets of Phoenix, many in desperate need of medical treatment. Nearly 20 years ago, Phoenix Children’s formed a partnership with Children's Health Fund and HomeBase Youth Services to create the “Crews'n Healthmobile,” a 35-foot mobile medical unit that brings free, comprehensive medical care directly to these young individuals in need.

Phoenix Children’s has three mobile medical units that visit three sites, including UMOM New Day Centers, the largest shelter for homeless families in Phoenix; Children First Leadership Academy, a K-8 charter school where the vast majority of youth are living at or below the federal poverty level and are at risk of homelessness; and Phoenix Dream Center, which provides shelter and services to adolescents who are struggling with homelessness and are survivors of human trafficking.

Phoenix Children's Pediatrics: Children should have regular check-ins with their primary care physician (PCP). These check-ins should include conversations on the overall mental health and well-being of the child. If parents have concerns about their child’s mental health, we encourage them to communicate or schedule an appointment with their child’s PCP, as they also should be able to connect families to various resources.

Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics has convenient locations in Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe, Scottsdale and Cottonwood.

Phoenix Children’s + Arizona State University’s Social Work Partnership: In 2021, Phoenix Children’s and ASU developed a partnership to address mental health issues impacting our patient families. The university’s School of Social Work has a group of students who began a yearlong internship program at Phoenix Children’s where they learn from our behavioral health specialists on how to appropriately interact with patient families on mental health issues impacting their child.

Community partners

Phoenix Rising: Phoenix Children's is the Official Pediatric Medical Partner of Phoenix Rising, Arizona's highest-level professional soccer team. Our partnership raises awareness around mental health and focuses on extended community partnerships.