The doors of Wolfson Children’s Hospital are wide open to every child. For over 15 years Wolfson Children’s Hospital has been the only community provider in Northeast Florida that offers the full continuum of mental health services, with programs for both children and adolescents. Regrettably, the need and range of mental health care delivery continue to grow, both within our behavioral health settings and throughout the children’s hospital.


In response to these challenges, The Women’s Board began in 2008 to fulfill a 5-year, $4 million pledge to fund the recently-named Larry J. Freeman Behavioral Health Center, an eleven-bed clinical facility in the new patient tower on the Downtown Jacksonville campus.


The Center’s three full-time psychiatrists collaborate with other services within Wolfson to address mental health issues that may arise in complex medical cases. In addition, educational programs help address the psychological issues children face when struggling with challenges such as childhood obesity, chronic illness, bullying, stress, peer pressure, violence, loss and bereavement.  Education, early intervention and removing the stigma of reaching out for help are keys to guiding children and families to hope and possibilities.


  • Caring for children’s mental health needs has become increasingly complex.  Numerous factors contribute to this complexity, and various sources identify the scope of needs:
  • At the beginning of this century the Surgeon General held a conference entitled Children’s Mental Health: Developing a National Action Agenda. At that time health care professionals identified a public crisis in mental healthcare for infants, children and adolescents.
  • The World Health Organization notes that by the year 2020 childhood neuropsychiatric disorders will rise proportionately by over 50 percent internationally, to become one of the five most common causes of morbidity, mortality and disability among children.
  • Statistics from the National Mental Health Information Center indicate one in ten children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment. When untreated, mental illness can lead to school failure, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence or the tragedy of losing a child to suicide.
  • While Florida is the 4th largest state, it is ranked 48th in per capita mental health spending. Further, Northeast Florida receives the least resources in comparison to other areas in Florida.


The Larry J. Freeman Behavioral Health Center, named by The Women’s Board after the recently-retired and much beloved administrator of 34 years, is comprised of an inpatient program and a partial hospitalization program divisions—one for patients ages 6 to 11 years old and the other for patients ages 12 to 17 years old. Our inpatient program admits over 500 patients each year who are experiencing acute emotional problems that disrupt their ability to function in life.


A partial hospitalization program allows children to receive therapy during the day without staying overnight.  Our partial hospitalization program, originally designed to be a step-down program for children discharged from inpatient services, has expanded to include an eating disorder program, week-long summer day programs for children struggling with weight management, parenting education programs, and a developing partnership with the cardiology clinic to provide nutritional and psychosocial support to children with cardiac conditions, diabetes and cancer.