Mental health facility for kids expands as demand grows

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MADISON (WKOW) — The need for mental health treatment for children continues to grow. A facility in Dane County will break ground on an expansion in early November to meet that demand.

Tucked away in a wooded area in Madison is the UnityPoint Health – Meriter – Child & Adolescent Psychiatry center (CAP). It helps young people ages six to 18 who are dealing with things like depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

That became a reality for 15-year-old Olivia Tompach a year ago.

“I became severely depressed and I kind of fell down a hole and couldn’t find my way out,” said Tompach.

Olivia tried to kill herself. Her mother, Tina Noel, contacted CAP to get help.

The facility was able to get Olivia in within a day because of her condition, but for hundreds of other kids, that’s not the case. Currently, CAP has a wait list that can sometimes reach out to nine months.

“We have to turn away so many kids that need this type of care,” said Dr. Katie Schmitt the medical director at CAP.

That’s why leaders say a $10 million expansion is needed. The expansion will add 30 beds, more activities, and an out-patient program.

Each year the center helps nearly 900 kids from more than 35 different counties across Wisconsin. Dr. Schmitt hopes they will be able to open their doors to more kids in need once construction is done in the fall of 2019.

The current CAP building will also be renovated. That project will cost about $3 million and is being raised by private donors. If you would like to donate, go to

If you think you or your child could benefit from mental health treatment, call the 24-hour Dane County Mental Health Crisis Line at 608-280-2600. If you would rather text than talk on the phone, reach out to 741741 and text “Hello” to start a conversation.


Rebecca Ribley

Rebecca Ribley

Wake Up Wisconsin Anchor

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