CHKD Mental Health Hospital [CHKD’s Expert Care]

Mental health conditions affect people of all ages, including children, and providing comprehensive care for youth struggling with mental illness is essential for their healthy development. 

The Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, Virginia has been a leader in pediatric behavioral healthcare for decades through its mental health hospital programs.

As the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia, CHKD has a unique understanding of the challenges that young patients face. 

They treat infants, children, teens, and young adults aged 0-21, and even some adults who require pediatric care. 

With 206 beds, CHKD is equipped to handle a wide range of mental health issues, from depression and anxiety to substance abuse and beyond.

But it’s not just about the number of beds. It’s about the people who work there. 

The doctors, psychologists, social workers, and clinicians who make up CHKD’s interdisciplinary care teams are some of the top professionals in their fields. 

They are dedicated to providing comprehensive care that addresses the whole child, not just their mental health symptoms.

This article will explore CHKD’s wide range of services offered to young patients, as well as some of its top doctors and other mental health professionals.

About the CHKD Mental Health Hospital Program

Inside CHKD

The CHKD mental health hospital program is centered in the state-of-the-art Children’s Pavilion – a $224 million, 14-story facility designed specifically for pediatric behavioral health.

Children’s Pavilion prioritizes patient comfort, privacy, and dignity, providing a welcoming environment for young patients ranging from preschool to high school age.

The Pavilion’s bright and inviting common areas, along with thoughtfully appointed private rooms, create an ideal setting for effective treatment. 

Patients can also take advantage of indoor and outdoor exercise spaces, promoting active engagement in their recovery journey.

The Pavilion features 60 inpatient beds, in addition to outpatient clinics and a partial hospitalization program. 

This comprehensive approach ensures that families have access to a seamless continuum of care.

By providing a holistic and specialized treatment experience, the program helps young patients achieve their mental health goals and build a strong foundation for a healthy, happy future.

Services Provided By The CHKD

Within the CHKD mental health hospital program, families can access a range of services designed to support the mental well-being of young patients. 

From early intervention and assessments to ongoing support, CHKD’s team of experts works collaboratively to provide personalized care that addresses the diverse needs of each child.

Let’s explore these services in detail.

1. Inpatient Treatment

The CHKD mental health hospital program offers inpatient care with 60 specialized rooms designed for the safety and comfort of children undergoing acute mental health treatment.

2. Outpatient Therapy

CHKD’s outpatient therapy program provides individual and group therapy services led by a team of psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and licensed counselors. 

Following an assessment, children may participate in group therapy sessions to build skills and reduce symptoms with options for ongoing individual therapy as needed.

3. Psychological Testing

CHKD’s pediatric and clinical psychologists conduct thorough psychological diagnostic assessments to evaluate diagnosis, strengths, weaknesses, and intervention needs. 

Assessments consider various factors such as genetic, medical, developmental, educational, social, and family influences to inform personalized treatment plans.

4. Intensive Outpatient Program

CHKD’s intensive outpatient program caters to teens aged 14-17 who require more than weekly outpatient therapy sessions. 

This structured after-school mental health program aims to enhance the quality of life and alleviate symptoms by equipping patients with tools to manage their emotions effectively. 

The program, which incorporates individual and group therapies, skills building, family engagement, and medication support, follows a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) curriculum. 

Successful completion of the program empowers patients with improved emotional regulation skills, fostering a sense of autonomy and resilience as they transition back to routine care.

5. Individual Therapy: 

Individual therapy at CHKD offers personalized one-on-one sessions between your child and a licensed mental health professional. 

Their therapists employ a diverse range of techniques and evidence-based modalities to address the child’s unique needs and challenges. 

Through such focused sessions, children are guided to build and practice coping skills, fostering growth and healing in a supportive therapeutic environment.

6. Group Therapy

Providing both standalone treatment and a bridge while awaiting individual therapy or symptom management, CHKD’s group sessions offer invaluable support and skill-building opportunities. 

The hospital recommends skills-based groups based on the initial clinical needs assessment, accessible alongside individual services. 

Individual providers may also suggest group therapy as a supplementary component to a child’s treatment plan, enhancing their therapeutic journey through additional avenues for growth.

7. Partial Hospitalization Services

Their partial hospitalization program offers intensive day treatment for children and adolescents who require a step-down from acute hospitalization or a step-up from outpatient services. 

Operating Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM, this structured and therapeutic environment provides individual, group, and family therapies along with psychiatric management.

Ideal for patients with significant emotional, behavioral, or social challenges, the program offers a comprehensive approach to stabilize patients in their journey toward improved mental health.

8. Art, Movement, and Meditation Therapies

CHKD incorporates various forms of expressive therapies such as art, music, movement, and meditation into its treatment repertoire. 

These modalities serve as powerful tools for children to express themselves, manage distress, cultivate mindfulness, regulate emotions, and enhance social skills. 

By integrating body, mind, and spirit, CHKD aims to empower children with a diverse toolkit for emotional self-care and personal growth.

9. Activity Areas 

The Children’s Pavilion at CHKD offers a range of recreational facilities designed to promote physical activity and outdoor play. 

Inside, a two-story indoor recreation center features a half-court basketball area and versatile space for various activities. 

An adjoining exercise room provides access to treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines, supporting regular exercise for stress reduction and mood enhancement. 

On the rooftop, a dedicated outdoor recreation area offers safe play opportunities, including a basketball court and interactive planters for gardening activities accessible to all children.

10. Bridge Crisis Clinic

Bridge Crisis Clinic is another interim psychiatric service available at CHKD for children and teens facing mental health crises. 

Acting as a stabilizing force, the clinic ensures a smooth transition to community-based care for patients in crisis. 

Additionally, the clinic aids eligible patients already under community providers’ care, providing stabilization before resuming treatment with their primary providers.

11. Range of Professionals:

In addition to pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health counselors, CHKD’s new hospital employs child life and recreational therapists. 

These professionals facilitate creative expression through art and music therapy, providing therapeutic outlets for emotional exploration and growth. 

Let’s explore some of the doctors and top professionals at CHKD.

Want to know about mental health hospitals, check these out:

  1. Portsmouth Naval Hospital Mental Health
  2. St. Joseph’s Hospital Mental Health: Mental Health Care at St. Joseph’s
  3. St. Anthony Hospital Mental Health

Doctors & Top Professionals At CHKD

top doctor

CHKD’s team of child and adolescent psychiatrists comprises physicians with specialized training in assessing and treating a spectrum of mental health conditions in children. 

From anxiety and depression to trauma-related disorders, ADHD, disruptive behavior problems, psychosis, and eating disorders, they are equipped to address various challenges. 

They provide family-focused care, conduct diagnostic evaluations, prescribe medications, and offer psychosocial interventions to support the child’s overall well-being.

Moreover, their pediatric and clinical psychologists also play a pivotal role in providing psychological diagnostic assessments and individual and group therapies. 

With a focus on helping children and adolescents cope with diverse stressors and conditions, they meticulously formulate diagnoses and tailor treatment plans to each patient’s needs.

Additionally, they have psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), who work together with interdisciplinary mental health teams across outpatient and inpatient settings.

With specialized training in mental health care, PMHNPs conduct triage and assessments, provide education about mental health conditions, and administer various treatments

Following are some of the top dedicated professionals at CHKD.

1. Dr. Patricia Al-Adsani

Dr. Patricia Al-Adsani is a seasoned pediatric psychiatrist with an impressive 34 years of experience. 

She holds board certifications in Child/Adolescent Psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry. 

Dr. Al-Adsani earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center and completed both her residency and fellowship at the renowned Menninger Clinic.

2. Dr. Jana Elliker

After completing her training at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt Psychiatry Residency Program, Dr. Jana Elliker has established herself as a dedicated professional in the field. 

Her clinical interests span trauma disorders, social anxiety, and other anxiety disorders, with a focus on family-focused treatment and school collaboration.

3. Dr. Anisha Garg

Graduating from the American University of The Caribbean, Dr. Garg completed her residency at Temple University and her fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. 

Dr. Anisha Garg’s journey in pediatric psychiatry is marked by her passion for helping children and families navigate mental health challenges. 

Her clinical interests include neurodevelopmental disorders, transitional-age youth groups, and collaborative care.

4. Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason

Trained as a triple-board physician in pediatrics, general psychiatry, and child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason brings a wealth of expertise to her role. 

Graduating from Columbia University College for medical school, she completed her residency at Rhode Island Hospital-Lifespan and her fellowship at Tulane University School of Medicine. 

Her clinical interests focus on infant and early childhood mental health, with a commitment to providing quality mental health care to children of all ages.

5. Dr. Thomas Henry

As the medical director of psychiatry and psychology for CHKD’s mental health program, Dr. Henry plays a pivotal role in shaping mental health services for children and adolescents. 

With over seven years of clinical psychiatric experience, he is board-certified in both adult and child and adolescent psychiatry. 

Dr. Henry’s clinical interests include crisis stabilization, telehealth mental health services, and providing psychiatric consultation in various settings.

6. Dr. David Meyer

Graduating from Western University of Health Sciences, Dr. Meyer completed his residency at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and the University of Virginia Medical Center. 

Dr. Meyer’s clinical interests encompass childhood psychosis, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, among others.

7. Dr. Tamara Palka

Dr. Tamara Palka is a board-certified child psychiatrist and the medical director of the neurodevelopmental disorders unit at Children’s Pavilion. 

Dr. Palka brings extensive experience from her work at Spring Harbor Hospital’s specialized unit for children with autism and developmental disorders in Maine. 

She completed her residency at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt and her fellowship at Maine Medical Center.

Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions

While the manifestations can vary widely depending on the specific disorder and individual factors, there are common indicators to be mindful of. 

Persistent changes in mood, such as prolonged feelings of sadness, anxiety, or irritability, may signal underlying mental health concerns. 

Additionally, changes in behavior patterns, such as withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep or appetite, or engaging in risky behaviors, can be indicative of mental health issues. 

Cognitive symptoms, including difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, or impaired decision-making, may also accompany mental health conditions. 

Physical symptoms, such as unexplained aches and pains, fatigue, or weight changes, can also be associated with certain mental health disorders. 

It’s essential to pay attention to these signs and seek professional help if you or someone you know experiences persistent or severe symptoms impacting daily functioning and quality of life. 

Early recognition and intervention can significantly improve outcomes and promote overall well-being.


1. When mental health is an emergency?

Mental health emergencies can include thoughts or actions of self-harm or harm to others, severe psychotic symptoms, uncontrollable panic attacks, or acute substance abuse issues. 
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate help from a mental health professional, call a crisis hotline, or go to the nearest emergency room.

2. What is the hardest mental illness to live with?

The difficulty of living with a mental illness can vary greatly from person to person. 
However, some mental illnesses, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder, can pose significant challenges due to their impact on daily functioning.

3. What are the warning signs of poor mental health?

Warning signs of poor mental health may include persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, sudden changes in mood or behavior, and social withdrawal. 
Difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, increased irritability or anger, substance abuse, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide are also important warning signs.

4. Who do you talk to if you have mental health issues?

If you are experiencing mental health issues, you can talk to a variety of professionals for help, including licensed therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or counselors. 
Additionally, you can reach out to trusted friends or family members for support. 
Many communities also have mental health hotlines or crisis centers that offer confidential support and resources.

Manuel Alejandro Patiño

Personal and professionally focused on integral wellness in mind, emotions, and body, as the main key to preventing toxic stress and chronic diseases. I try to be an example of what I teach, healing not just from the knowledge. I am also very adaptable to employeer’s requirements. I can understand and speak Spanish, English, and German very fluently.

More than 7 years of experience practicing and teaching Kundalini Yoga and other meditation