The cost, the distance to providers and scheduling is preventing kids from getting mental health treatment right here in the Tri-States.
Now, a local mental health counseling practice is looking to make their services more accessible to families.
“We are continuing to get calls,” said Mark Vander Ley with Connections Family Counseling, LLC. “Our spaces are filling up so we need more options for people.”
That’s why Connections Family Counseling has now expanded beyond their normal hours, to now offer appointments on Saturday.
“To have someone who is available on Saturdays serves a unique need in the community,” said Vander Ley.
The counselor who decided to step forward and offer his time is Steven Spears.
“Mental health should be there when we need it, not just during the 9-5,” said Spears.
According to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of depression among children ages 6 to 17 have increased from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 8.4 percent in 2012. Nearly 20 percent of those children did not receive treatment.
“If they want to see someone in the mental health world they have to wait until they get out of school or they have to miss school,” said Spears. “As much as schools want to help, it’s just not practical.”
In fact, nowadays one in six children ages 2 to 8 has a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder, according to the CDC.
“Parents are seeing kids withdraw,” said Spears. “They’re spending more time in their room. They’re spending more time on their electronics. Where they might have usually engaged with parents, family members or friends, that’s taken on a different look now.”
Spears is now accepting referrals for children ages 5 to 18 needing help with depression, anxiety, ADHD and behavioral difficulties.