Mental health crisis affecting kids, where local families can get help

San Antonio nonprofits say demand for mental health services have gone up

SAN ANTONIO – A group of pediatric organizations declared a national emergency in children’s mental health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in children. They point to a spike in emergency room visits from kids during the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, between March and October of 2020, the percentage of emergency room visits for mental health emergencies among kids ages 5 to 11, went up by 24%. The CDC also said emergency room visits as a result of suspected suicide attempts among girls between the ages of 12 and 17 went up 50%.

Parents in San Antonio aren’t surprised.

“The isolation…wears on kids,” said Sarah Keller.

“It’s probably hard for them. They can’t really make friends,” said Julian Valenzuela.

The spike in numbers makes sense to Talli Dolge, CEO of Jewish Family Service.

“We have people calling counselors at the schools on the hour asking for these resources. They understand that they’re in crisis themselves,” explained Dolge.

Dolge’s group, Jewish Family Service, is among six nonprofits in the area working with the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative, which provides mental health services in the area. She said the demand for mental health services has gone up.

“We are actually at five times the amount of counseling referrals as we’ve been last year in our school districts,” she said.

Dolge hopes more families seek help, since neglecting mental health issues has proven to escalate into bigger issues, like heart disease.

You can reach the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative, by clicking here. Phone numbers to reach them are listed below.

San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative

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About the Author

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.

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