Pacific Life Foundation Makes $2 Million Transformational Grant to Children’s Health of Orange County to Ensure Children Get Mental Health Help and Support
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The Pacific Life Foundation is proud to announce a $2 million donation to Children’s Health of Orange County (CHOC) to further support programs addressing the mental health challenges facing children and teens.

“Over the last few years, CHOC’s mental health program has seen an increase in need given the impacts of the pandemic on the mental health of the youth of Orange County,” said Tennyson Oyler, president, Pacific Life Foundation. “Community is one of our core values at Pacific Life and helping CHOC address these challenges and ensure children and teens get the mental health support they need is important to us. We’re very proud to continue our long-standing partnership with CHOC in support of its work.”

“We are so grateful to the Pacific Life Foundation for its ongoing commitment to CHOC and the mental health of our patients and families,” said Dr. Heather Huszti, chief psychologist, CHOC. “It is the power of philanthropy that can help us restore some of the wonder of childhood to youth who go through difficult times, learn how to manage their challenges, and help them flourish into adulthood.”

A recent study published by the CDC found that between April and October of 2020, there was a 24 percent increase in the proportion of mental health emergency department visits for kids ages 5 to 11 compared with the same period in 2019.

The Pacific Life Foundation’s funding will provide support to three impactful and critical components of the CHOC mental health program.


Funding will provide scholarship support for CHOC’s eight-week outpatient program that helps teens build critical coping skills as they manage through symptoms of severe anxiety and depression.

The Need: About 1/3 of those attending the outpatient program have been released from inpatient psychiatric care; the rest enter this program to prevent crises that require hospitalization. Unfortunately, program participation is not covered by Medi-Cal, the primary source or insurance for low-income families which comprise over 60% of CHOC’s population. Philanthropic support is the sole means which these teens can participate in this unique program and get the help they need, and in many ways, avoid having to be hospitalized or re-hospitalized.


Funding will provide long-term services and expanded case management for the CHOC eating disorder treatment program.

The Need: CHOC offers both inpatient and outpatient eating disorder treatment, and those that need hospitalization are treated at the inpatient program at CHOC at Mission Hospital. Because patients who have conditions like anorexia nervosa and bulimia require long-term follow-up, CHOC must expand case management and other services to support these teens, particularly those from low-income families who can’t afford the follow-up care on their own. Pacific Life Foundation funding will hire a medical specialist devoted specifically to this follow-up and fund that position for a three-year period.


Pacific Life Foundation’s grant will support CHOC’s critical infrastructure needs, including helping to build out a new space in the Julia and George Argyros CHOC Orange Emergency Department for mental health assessment and initial treatment.

The Need: CHOC’s mental health strategic plan forecasts a continued rate of increase for services to children and teens with mental health needs. The hospital is needing to find additional dedicated space to support their Intensive Outpatient Program and Eating Disorder Programs at both the main hospital and their satellite campuses.


In 2015, the Pacific Life Foundation helped provide initial funding to support the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center at CHOC, an 18-bed center exclusively dedicated to the treatment of children ages 3 to 17 with mental illness who are in immediate risk of hurting themselves or others. The center is the centerpiece of CHOC’s mental health system of care. Learn more about the Pacific Life Foundation’s support of CHOC here.

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