Mental health professionals worried there aren’t enough resources for children who need it

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Perhaps one of the upsides to the coronavirus pandemic is the awareness it has brought to mental health. By the same token, though, the need for services continues to grow. Mental health professionals are worried there are not enough resources to go around.

NewsChannel 9 spoke with a clinical psychologist, who says she continues to get more and more requests for appointments.

“I have a nine-month waiting list right now. I have, my next appointment is in 2022. And that’s a problem,” said Dr. Tanya Pellettiere, a clinical psychologist.

That same need is being seen by those who deal with people who are in a state of crisis at CPEP, or the Saint Joseph’s Health Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program.

Dr. Geoffrey Hopkins, the Chairman of CPEP, said he’s seeing more young people experiencing severe anxiety and depression. In the last few months, they have consistently been getting more referrals from clinicians.

Now that kids are back in school, it has helped some, but it’s also bringing more issues to light.

“For the majority of students, they’ve been able to make that transition with a bit of increased anxiety for the first week or two. And now that they’re settling into school, they’re having to re-adjust to the higher demand,” Dr. Hopkins said. “For the majority of individuals it’s feeling either depressed or anxious and there’s also the baseline level of ADHD.”

Students as young as eight years old are starting to experience mental health crises. And with all of these new cases popping up, it proves to Dr. Hopkins how important school really is for the overall well-being of kids. 

“The big lesson of COVID, I think, is that our school system is the backbone of our society. And one of the most important resources that we’ve developed and we should really make sure to invest in our schools. Because they keep our young population healthy in ways that go far beyond their academic growth,” Hopkins said.

While local governments have started investing more in mental health, there’s a much larger problem at play. There are not enough mental health clinicians in the nation and in Central New York.

“Getting people who do the work that I do, getting more people to this area that can provide this kind of service. I think we’re at a crisis point and I worry that the awareness is there but the resources just aren’t going to be there to help,” Dr. Pellettiere said.

Hopkins suggests having an honest conversation with your children about their feelings, validate their experience, and continue to check in. Contact your primary care physician and ask for an assessment if you’re concerned.

If there’s an emergency, call St. Joseph’s Health at (315) 448-6555, and ask to speak with a clinician from CPEP.

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