Mental health officials see 'rapid increase' in need for youth services

The coronavirus pandemic has been rough on many of us, but it’s been an added strain in many ways for young people There's a partnership helping meet the need when it comes to mental health services in the community.

Emotions and actions are sometimes hard to control. 

“It’s always been tough to be a central city kid, and I think there is a lot of challenges we are all aware of,” Mario Costantini said. 

Costantini, the board chair of the Holton Youth and Family Center, says 2020 has compounded it all. 

"It's even become more difficult in the last year with COVID and the kids not being able to go to school regularly -- and isolated," he said.

That's why he says the agency, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, welcomes a new collaboration with Christian Family Solutions and the STRONG program, a child and adolescent day treatment program that provides year-round intensive mental health services to children and adolescents (ages 5-14) in a safe and structured school setting.

Mario Costantini

"They do mental health services for kids in our city," he said. 

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Ashley Schoof, CFS clinical director, says the new partnership will allow help on a larger scale. 

“We are looking to provide the maximum number of treatment at the highest dose the children need,” Schoof said. “Prior to the pandemic, we were serving 20 kids or so. The summer saw a rapid increase. Our families really needed extra support in the area of mental health and behavior management."

Hours of therapy help kids with a variety of issues.  

"They are struggling in school," said Schoof. "They are struggling in their home and struggling in the community. Their struggles are typically significant anxiety, depressions, behavior challenges, emotional challenges, things like that."

In the past, the STRONG  program relied on schools as a referral base. Officials are now reaching out to parents because of the changes lately, saying if you notice something is off with your child, reach out. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to treat.