How a San Antonio child guidance center is supporting kids’ mental health during pandemic

Jessica Knudsen, of the Clarity Child Guidance Center, joined Leading SA on Sunday

As we work to combat the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have continued to self-isolate, social distance and stay indoors for nearly a year now.

With that being said, it hasn’t been easy and the pandemic has taken quite a toll on mental health, especially in children.

That’s why Jessica Knudsen, president and CEO of the Clarity Child Guidance Center, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss how the nonprofit is assisting children with treatment of their mental wellbeing.

“Clarity is the only nonprofit in South Texas that is solely dedicated to the treatment of mental health for children, ages three to 17,” Knudsen said. “We run a day hospital program for kids to come from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to get more intensive programing. And then, we also have traditional outpatient therapy and psychiatry appointments.”

The CCGC is an eight-acre campus and it houses a 66-bed inpatient unit. Knudsen says there are a variety of services they offer to children, including a day hospital program.

“We run a day hospital program for kids to come from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to get more intensive programing. And then, we also have traditional outpatient therapy and psychiatry appointments,” Knudsen said.

The center can help children deal with anything from anxiety about the virus, social anxiety, or even behavioral health intervention, among others, according to Knudsen.

“You know, anyone that has a child that they feel is suffering and it could be with academics, it could be with some of the social anxiety and anxiety about the virus that has been prevalent during the pandemic. But if you have a child that’s in need of any behavioral health intervention, we are able to offer a program that could be of assistance,” Knudsen said.

The pandemic has created “a perfect storm for anxiety,” and Knudsen said the center as a whole as seen an increase in patients over the course of the last year.

We’ve seen a much higher utilization in terms of outpatient and in both our inpatient beds as well. It’s really created a perfect storm for anxiety, you know, no matter what your trigger is, that we’ve seen a lot of kids that have, as you mentioned, suffered from the social isolation aspect,” Knudsen said.

If you’re unsure if your child is struggling, Knudsen said there are a few warning signs you can look for.

“The most important thing is if a child ever says anything that even feels like they’re thinking of hurting themselves or hurting someone else, seek help immediately. Always take those statements seriously,” Knudsen said. “If you’re noticing a change in behavior, and that could look a lot of different ways in different children, get some consultation.”

You can watch the full interview with Knudsen in the video player above.

RELATED: KSAT Explains: Your mental health in 2021 amid COVID pandemic


About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.