Mental health counselors see spike in parents seeking therapy for children

TAMPA, Fla. — On the heels of a growing mental health crisis among young people, a panel of experts is now recommending screening kids as young as eight for anxiety.

“I’m seeing that I cannot even accommodate for the number of parents and requests that I’m getting,” Kyleen Papadakis, a licensed mental health counselor, said.

She said the number of parents reaching out for mental health help for their children is soaring.

“I was really surprised at the really high numbers of parents seeking private therapy for their children, and again, willing to pay out of pocket, not through insurance,” Papadakis explained.

The demand for more mental health help is becoming a challenge.

“With all the people it’s hard to accommodate so I’m having to refer out a lot,” Papadakis said.

Sandra Seeger, another mental health counselor, said she’s seeing the same thing.

“It’s getting harder and harder to get an appointment with a therapist. Most of the people I know right now are full and are not accepting clients,” Seeger said.

Seeger adds there are ways you can support your child at home if you think they are struggling with anxiety.

“Give them an outlet. Make sure they’re getting socialization. I think we had some serious issues in the pandemic with kids not getting enough socialization and then getting depressed and anxious… And exercise is a huge answer to anxiety,” Seeger said.

“A lot of times anxiety and depression can present as other things in younger children and I think parents were really seeing that at home a lot more,” Papadakis added.

Papadakis said anxiety in younger kids can resemble ADHD acting impulsively, perfectionism, even lack of focus.

She adds it’s better to seek help sooner than later and suggests getting on a waitlist for therapy while also reaching out to your child’s school and pediatrician for support.