CEO of large Texas nonprofit children’s mental health treatment center echoes US Surgeon General’s advice that children’s difficulties are “uniquely hard to manage”

On December 7, 2021, U.S. Chief Medical Officer Dr Vivek Murthy issued a strongly worded opinion on the urgent need to tackle the nation’s youth mental health crisis “further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic ”. It is filled with alarming statistics that the Texas Clarity Child Guidance Center Children’s Hospital is experiencing in real time.

SAN ANTONIO (PRWEB) December 17, 2021

On December 7, 2021, U.S. Chief Medical Officer Dr Vivek Murthy issued a strongly worded opinion on the urgent need to tackle the nation’s youth mental health crisis “further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic ”. It is filled with alarming statistics that the Texas Clarity Child Guidance Center Children’s Hospital is experiencing in real time. The Clarity Child Guidance Center is the only non-profit organization in South Texas to provide a continuum of mental health care to children ages 3 to 17 and their families to manage mental health issues ranging from ADHD and from anxiety to suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder and / or schizophrenia.

Over the past two years, Clarity CGC has experienced:

  • 159% increase in the use of psychiatric emergency department beds designed to provide immediate crisis intervention and hopefully avoid hospitalization. Psychiatric assessment and family therapy services are offered with the Crisis Service and the child can stay for up to 48 hours.
  • 65% increase in the number of patients admitted to an inpatient unit who have not had previous treatment with Clarity
  • 27% increase in inpatient admissions
  • 8% increase in the average daily census in hospital units
  • 19% increase in the number of patients admitted and placed on suicidal precautions

In Clarity’s internal discussions, the crisis in youth mental health has been largely attributed to the impact of distance learning. High performing children struggle with the impact of being behind in school. Children who struggled at school before the pandemic are even further behind. This is without adding to the complications that social development has brought about over the past two years.

“What we experienced at Clarity is a case study of what the General Surgeon is talking about,” says Jessica Knudsen, LCSW, CEO and President of Clarity CGC. “The anxiety disorders that we are seeing fall into social anxiety about going back to school, anxiety about school performance, and anxiety about the pandemic in general. However, we can help give children and families the tools to restore hope in their daily lives. . ”

“What can you do to help reverse this crisis? If you are a parent, talk to your kids about this. If they don’t talk to you, which potentially all teens are, find another trusted adult or professional therapist to help. in, ”Knudsen adds. “If you would like to help out as a member of the community who agrees with Dr Murthy that we need to ‘step in for our children and their families when needed’, donate your time and resources. to any non-profit organization helping our youth across the country. We personally know that grants and generous donors allow us to help anyone in need of care, regardless of their family’s ability to pay or whether they have insurance. “


  • Mental health problems in children, adolescents and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression and suicidal thoughts – and rates have increased over the past decade.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has further altered their experiences at home, at school and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating.
  • The unfathomable number of pandemic-era deaths, the pervasive sense of fear, economic instability and forced physical estrangement from loved ones, friends and communities have exacerbated the unprecedented stress that young people already face . The future well-being of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation.
  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues were the leading cause of disability and poor outcomes among young people, with up to 1 in 5 children aged 3 to 17 in the United States having a mental disorder , emotional, developmental or behavioral.
  • In addition, from 2009 to 2019, the proportion of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, reaching more than one in three students.
  • Suicidal behaviors among high school students also increased in the decade leading up to COVID, with 19% seriously considering attempting suicide, a 36% increase from 2009 to 2019, and around 16% having made a suicide plan in the previous year, a 44% increase over 2009 to 2019.
  • Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among young people aged 10 to 24 in the United States increased by 57%, and early estimates show more than 6,600 suicide deaths in this age group in 2020.
  • The pandemic has disrupted the lives of children and adolescents, such as in-person schooling, in-person social opportunities with peers and mentors, access to health and social care, food, housing and health of their caregivers.
  • The negative impacts of the pandemic hit those who were initially vulnerable the most, such as youth with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ + youth, low-income youth, youth from rural areas, youth from immigrant households. , young people involved in child protection or juvenile justice systems, and homeless young people.
  • Our obligation to act is not only medical, it is moral. I believe that emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity as a country to rebuild in a way that refocuses our identity and common values, puts people first and strengthens our bonds with one another. with the others.

MORE ON CLARITY: The clarity fact sheet is available here. Founded in 1886, Clarity CGC provides a self-contained mental health hospital and specialist inpatient / outpatient treatment for children, with the region’s largest concentration of child and adolescent psychiatrists on its 8-acre campus. Clarity CGC’s continuum of treatment, intervention and prevention services includes (but is not limited to):

  • Psychiatric emergency care in the crisis services area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
  • Hospital treatment of children in crisis and / or children facing complex long-term problems;
  • First Step appointments help caregivers recognize when a child’s behavior escalates from age-appropriate challenges to mental health disorders requiring professional help;
  • Partial hospitalization (day treatment) during the day; children come home at night to practice coping skills outside of the treatment setting;
  • Outpatient therapies, including individual, group and family sessions;
  • Encompassing services such as case management, medication management, educational support, and an innovative therapeutic art and active play program, Play with Purpose ™.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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