CEO Message: Continued Community Collaboration Needed to Address Growing Children’s Mental Health Crisis

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CEO Message:  Continued Community Collaboration Needed to Address Growing Children’s Mental Health Crisis

During 2021, despite the pandemic resulting in limited in-person services, Tykes & Teens provided nearly 25,000 mental health sessions for clients throughout the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County, as well as reaching thousands of youth through our numerous prevention services. This would not have been possible without the support of our funders, donors, community partners and our amazing team of therapists.
We are truly grateful for the continued support we have received this year from our valued partners who share our mission of prioritizing children’s mental health. Your funding is a testament to the high-quality services we provide. Because of you, we are able to continue providing access to quality care for children in our community regardless of their ability to pay.
We have only begun to see the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. Without question, the need for high-quality children’s mental health services will continue to increase as we enter the new year and beyond. It truly takes a village to address the current children’s mental health crisis we are facing. Additional funding to fill this increased demand for services so desperately needed by children and families is needed now more than ever.
According to the “Protecting Youth Mental Health Advisory” published in December by the U.S. Surgeon General, recent national surveys of young people have shown alarming increases in the prevalence of certain mental health challenges. In 2019, one in three high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an overall increase of 40 percent from 2009. Since the pandemic began, rates of psychological distress among young people, including symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders have increased even further.
  • Youth depressive and anxiety symptoms doubled during the pandemic, with 25 percent of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20 percent experiencing anxiety symptoms.
  • In early 2021, emergency department visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls and 4% higher for adolescent boys compared to the same time period in early 2019.
  • Pandemic-related measures reduced in-person interactions among children, friends, social supports and professionals such as teachers, school counselors, pediatricians and child welfare workers. This made it harder to recognize signs of child abuse, mental health concerns and other challenges.
While there is clearly a large critical need for children’s mental health services, there is a bright side. There is hope! Children are resilient. With proper care and support, children can improve self-esteem; recover from sexual abuse, domestic violence and substance abuse; improve anxiety and depression symptoms; and develop the valuable skills they need to live a healthy and independent life. We live in a shared community and by continuing to work together as a community, we will continue making a meaningful impact by strengthening our children and families, and building a healthy resilient community for years to come.
You can make a difference in the lives of our local youth today by supporting our mission of prioritizing children’s mental health. Learn how to increase your impact at or email us at
Eric Garza, MHA, LCSW
CEO, Tykes & Teens
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