Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Names First System Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health

New chief will lead the organization’s commitment to addressing the significant challenges impacting pediatric behavioral and mental health

ATLANTA (June 21, 2022) – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has named John N. Constantino, MD, the new Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health, effective August 1, 2022. In his new role, Dr. Constantino will lead the Children’s effort to change the landscape of Behavioral and Mental Health for Georgia’s children and adolescents in the face of this growing epidemic.

“We are honored and grateful that Dr. Constantino has joined Children’s as Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health,” said Donna Hyland, CEO. “This recruitment further demonstrates Children’s strong commitment to being a leader and partner in building a pediatric behavioral and mental health system of care. We can impact this crisis by leveraging early intervention to improve outcomes, reduce stigma, and enhance access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment.”

Dr. Constantino’s nationally renowned expertise and commitment to behavioral and mental health brings tremendous leadership to Atlanta. He currently serves as Psychiatrist-in-Chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as well as the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. After obtaining his medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine in 1988, he completed a five-year combined residency in Pediatrics, General Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He returned to Washington University in 1993 to develop a clinical and scientific program focused on understanding genetic and environmental influences on disorders of social development in childhood, and their implications for treatment and preventive intervention. His Social Developmental Studies laboratory was continuously federally-funded for 25 years by the National Institutes of Health.

Over the course of his tenure as Division Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in St. Louis, Dr. Constantino chaired the Mental Health Commission of the State of Missouri, published results from a series of clinical innovations in child mental health pioneered in the Division, and received the Irving Philips Award for lifetime achievement in prevention from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Recruiting Dr. Constantino gives Children’s the opportunity to change the trajectory of Behavioral and Mental Health in our state. His trailblazing work in addressing mental health issues through early prevention, coupled with his passion for health equity, can transform the landscape of the crisis we are currently facing. His published research is among the most highly cited in his field, and his holistic approach to mental health has had industry-wide impact. His interest in joining Children’s and serving Georgia was heightened by the opportunity for his work to impact a larger number of children. The Behavioral and Mental Health professionals in our state are gaining an expert ally and partner: much of Dr. Constantino’s previous success is built on a foundation of community-based models of care, and engagement with communities of professionals.

“I am thrilled to join a pediatric healthcare system that is determined to advance the behavioral health of its youngest generation, and to never settle for less than what science has shown to be possible for the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions of youth,” said Dr. Constantino. “I’m not only joining Children’s as a chief, but I’m also joining Emory’s nationally-leading university as a professor, and a wonderful community as an enthusiastic member. I see it as the highest aspiration to marshal our resources to protect childhood and to ensure healthy mind and brain development for life.”

In addition to his role as Chief, Behavioral and Mental Health at Children’s, Dr. Constantino will be a faculty member in the Emory School of Medicine department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is currently implementing a Behavioral and Mental Health Plan that has four focus areas which, together, are designed to have the greatest impact on improving outcomes for children in Georgia. Through this plan, Children’s will innovate behavioral and mental health care; work with partners to transform access; pioneer prevention; and build a strong foundation for new programs. Children’s identified Dr. Constantino as the best candidate to lead the organization’s commitment to addressing the significant challenges impacting children and adolescents in the behavioral and mental health space. The organization’s investment in behavioral and mental health exceeds $100 million over five years, an amount Children’s anticipates growing under Dr. Constantino’s leadership. Currently, Children’s is seeking $70 million in philanthropic support to grow program impact in the Behavioral and Mental Health space.

About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

As the only freestanding pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the trusted leader in caring for kids. The not-for-profit organization’s mission is to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow through more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs, top healthcare professionals, and leading research and technology. Children’s is one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, managing more than one million patient visits annually at three hospitals, Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, urgent care centers and neighborhood locations. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has impacted the lives of kids in Georgia, across the United States and around the world for more than 100 years thanks to generous support from the community.

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