Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta announced that it has achieved a significant milestone in its comprehensive effort to provide behavioral and mental health treatment and care to children and adolescents in need. David and Helen Zalik and their foundation, The Zalik Foundation, have announced they will donate nearly 10 acres of land, including two office buildings, located along the I-85 northbound access road near the Children’s North Druid Hills campus, to Children’s in a transaction that would close later this year. According to a September 2022 report from an independent real estate appraiser, the appraised value of the property is over $34M. The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Zalik Behavioral and Mental Health Center will be entirely dedicated to pediatric behavioral and mental health.
The gift comes just two months after nationally renowned child psychiatrist, John N. Constantino, MD, joined Children’s as the system’s first Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health, charged with creating a program to help stem a youth mental health crisis long in the making, and exacerbated by Covid 19.
The Zalik’s generous gift will help Children’s build a transformative center that will innovate the way behavioral and mental health care is delivered in Georgia. The Zalik Center will serve as a central location for Children’s and community partners to fulfill the Children’s vision to deliver evidence-based care to kids throughout Georgia.
“With the Zalik’s gift and Children’s deep commitment to impacting the problem, our expanding corps of mental health professionals will have a venue in which to meet the community’s ever-increasing needs for child mental health care, in a space that supports recovery and is conducive to coordinated delivery of the latest innovations in clinical practice,” said Constantino. “This campus will also enable us to work with providers throughout Georgia to transform pediatric behavioral and mental health.”
“So many families are touched by behavioral and mental health issues—it’s truly something that impacts everyone, and the crisis is growing exponentially,” said Helen Zalik. “We are humbled by this unique opportunity to provide tzedakah to help Children’s further enhance its standing as a healthcare provider at the forefront of answering the call for help and for it to become a leading model for other children’s hospitals working to address the mental health crisis.”
Since 2019, Children’s Board of Trustees and Children’s leadership have been focused on a four-pillar plan to become a leader and partner in building a pediatric behavioral and mental health system of care to innovate treatments, transform access, pioneer prevention and build a strong foundation for future growth. The center will provide a balance of prevention, early intervention and services across a continuum of care, including a comprehensive outpatient treatment program space for meaningful collaboration with community partners, as well as a home for research, teaching and family education.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Zaliks for caring so much about children and making a difference in addressing this crisis,” said Donna Hyland, CEO of Children’s. “This amazing gift will provide an extraordinary resource for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Dr. Constantino and his team to tackle this issue.”
“Since 2015, the number of visits to a Children’s emergency department for a primary behavioral or mental health concern has more than doubled. The average age of the children facing a behavioral or mental health emergency is only 9 years old,” said Dr. John Constantino. “Children’s is committed to building a pediatric behavioral and mental health ecosystem that improves outcomes, reduces stigma, and enhances access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. This gift will enable an expansion of our reach and provide a “home base” for in-person and virtual care to be delivered throughout Georgia.”
In 2019, Children’s opened an outpatient clinic that allows clinicians to provide greater behavioral mental health support to our healthcare system by providing care to Children’s patients experiencing anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms, medical adherence, and conduct and behavior challenges. This additional location will allow us to expand capacity for treatment of the kids who need our services and to provide a venue for collaboration with community partners.