Mental Health Awareness Month: The Kids Are Not Alright
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There has been information out there on the growing mental health needs of teens. These needs extend into the young adult years and can impact families and marriages or other relationships.
I'd like to give you an inside look from a specialist in teen therapy and family counseling. I am one specialist, one group practice, in the Katy, Tx and Houston area. I would venture to guess that my perspective is not unique and shared by many therapists in Katy, Tx and the Houston area.
Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment in Residential Treatment in Katy, Tx
Let me start with a little background. I used to work for one of the largest foster care organizations in the state. I oversaw three residential treatment centers (RTCs) for teen girls who have experienced complex trauma and PTSD.
https://www.katyteenandfamilycounseling.com/young-adult-therapists-katy-houstonThere was one question I would get asked that would create some inner conflict. After talking with people about what I did, I would commonly be asked, "How many girls do you work with in residential treatment?"
I would respond that on average, we serve around 120 girls across three RTCs. There would be positive comments about how many teen girls we are able to help. I would talk about the great services they are receiving and would feel pride in the work that we do.
But think about that for a moment. We served around 120 teen girls day to day, month to month, and year to year. These are girls who experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and/or neglect. This came out to around 300 different girls each year that we served. That is a frightening number!
I was proud to be able to be part of the work in helping these girls heal from trauma and PTSD. At the same time, I felt ill that we needed to serve approximately 300 girls each year for teen trauma and PTSD. It's one job that I wished I could've work myself out of and that there wouldn't be the need for those services any longer.
So how does this relate to Katy Teen & Family Counseling? I'm glad you asked!
High Need for Teen Therapy, Young Adult Counseling, &
I will have friends and family ask how Katy Teen & Family Counseling is doing. The answer has been and continues to be, "We are very, very busy!"
Rapid Growth Due to High Demand
I have provided teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family therapy since 2003. I have provided these services in different settings over the years. This has been my area of specialty from day one as a therapist.
In January of 2020, I started seeing teens, young adults, families, and couples part time while I worked for the foster care organization (referenced above) full time. In February of 2020 I was full in my private practice. At that time, I had a three to five year plan to open a group practice to provide therapy to teens, young adults, & families.
While the numbers of girls we served in the RTC was staggering, the number of teens, young adults, families, and couples needing support in the Katy, Tx and Houston area is not too far off. We also know that we are seeing but a percentage of those suffering and needing help.hose suffering and needing help.ose suffering and needing help.se suffering and needing help.e suffering and needing help. suffering and needing help.suffering and needing help.uffering and needing help.ffering and needing help.fering and needing help.ering and needing help.ring and needing help.ing and needing help.ng and needing help.g and needing help. and needing help.and needing help.nd needing help.d needing help. needing help.nTx and Houston area eeding help.needing help.eeding help.eding help.ding help.ing help.ng help.g help. help.help.elp.lp.p.the foster care organization and now work full time at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
We now have four therapists (including myself) working with teens, young adults, families, and couples in the Katy, Tx and Houston area. In the next several months I will be looking at hiring a fifth therapist.
I knew that there was a need in the Katy, Tx area for therapists who specialize in teen therapy, young adult counseling, and family therapy. Yet I think I underestimated just how high the need really was. We have experienced rapid growth due to the high need in the Katy, Tx and Houston area and the need remains high.
We Know There Are More
While we see a high number of teens, young adults, and families, we also know that we see only a percentage of those who are struggling right now. We know that there are many more out there who may be reluctant or know where to find help.
I am happy to be able to be using our expertise and our area of specialization in helping teens, young adults, families, and couples in our area. My heart also aches knowing that with the need so high and that there are many more out there suffering who may be reluctant to reach out for help.
Factors and Causes of the Increase in Need for Therapy and Counseling
There are many factors and causes of the increase of teens, young adults, families, and couples seeking therapy or counseling services. Some of the factors and causes that we have observed at Katy Teen & Family Counseling are:
Teen and Young Adult Mental Health Pre-pandemic
A study by the Pew Research Center found that teen depression has increased 59% from 2007 to 2017. Teen anxiety has also increased at close to the same rate. And this was before the pandemic which has only worked to increase these numbers.
A study by the American Psychological Association also found that teens are reporting as much stress as adults were independently reporting. Yet when school is in, teens were reporting higher levels of stress than adults were independently reporting. Again, this study was pre-pandemic which brings us to . . . the impact of the pandemic.
Teen Mental Health During a Pandemic
Some teens entered the pandemic already struggling with some form of emotional or behavioral struggle. One of the variables that helps teens who struggle with emotional or behavioral difficulties are their friends.
Not only did the pandemic interrupt our teens during a time of psychological and social development, it prevented those who were struggling from accessing their support system for an enduring period of time.
Teens are in a state of identity formation, values clarification, building self-esteem, confidence, and worth. The proving grounds of all these developmental achievements is with their peers.
As we isolated our teens from their peers we interrupted their normal developmental process. This has left many experiencing an depressive, anxious, or other symptoms related to emotional struggles for the first time.
Those teens who entered the pandemic already struggling with emotional or behavioral struggles saw these symptoms become worse. And there were some that during the pandemic, developed depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or other struggles.
Competitive Schools and High Risk Teens
Research is showing that teens in "high achieving schools" are experiencing higher rates of emotional and behavioral struggles compared to national norms.
High achieving schools would be those that:
Have high standardized test scores
Offer a variety of extracurricular activities & academic offerings
Graduates who go on to top colleges and universities
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have placed teens attending high achieving schools as a new category of "at risk" youth. These teens tend to have emotional or behavioral challenges at similar rates as teens in living in poverty, foster care, recent immigrants, or teens with incarcerated parents.
At first, this may seem startling and maybe unbelievable. But think about it. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we work with teens whose "work week" rivals that of adults. It is not uncommon for us to work with teens in highly competitive schools have schedules such as:
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to attend sports or other extracurricular activities
Head off to school following sports or extracurricular activities
Taking many pre-AP or AP classes
After school either participate in cram crew, SAT prep, music lessons, etc.
Return home around 6:00 -7:00 p.m.
Study and do homework until 11:59 p.m. when assignments are due
Go to bed and start it all over again the next morning - wash, rinse, repeat
There are teens who are 'working' more hours Monday-Friday than most adults work! They may be receiving explicit pressure from parents to excel at the highest levels. If not from parents, the schools are set in such away that there is a lot of implicit pressure from teachers and friends.
It's not too much of a stretch then to think that teens in our area may be experiencing higher rates of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. The stress level is high. The pressure is great. It's enduring and to a teen, may feel unending.
We see many gifted students at Katy Teen & Family Counseling. Gifted students sometimes face their own unique mental health struggles. But with the pressures and stress of going to a high achieving school, this may be a factor into why we see so many gifted students.
These are the right ingredients to develop depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other struggles. These struggles also follow our teens into their young adult years if not addressed and resolved as a younger teen.
Young Adult Counseling
We find ourselves providing more and more counseling for young adults. Many are the teens who have struggled with depression or anxiety but did not seek help as a younger teen. As a result, the struggles they faced as a younger teen are now battles they fight as a young adult.
Some are young adults who have participated in therapy, found success, yet the pressures of being a young adult have stirred up some old emotional struggles. Young adults are in a unique phase of life. Having turned into an adult overnight, they are trying to navigate that in between time of not quite being a teen but not yet an adult at the same time.
Navigating these times with the added difficulty of young adult depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD, panic attacks, trauma, PTSD, etc. makes this journey more complex than it need be.
And the transition from teen to young adult now looks much different than it did pre-pandemic. Many young adults who went to college found themselves back home as the COVID rates reached the threshold required to stop in person classes. Their classes went online and it didn't make sense for them to pay for a dorm on campus when they could live at home and "attend class" online.
Young adults who struggle with emotional or behavioral challenges are finding greater challenges in this transition in part due to the lack of predictability and consistency in their lives. Others are finding they are not ready due to lingering emotional or behavioral challenges that they continue to struggle with.
Marriage Counseling & Couples Therapy
One variable that I did not anticipate was the increase in requests for marriage counseling or couples therapy. Marriages and relationships have not been immune to the stressors of raising a teen or young adult during the pandemic or simply pandemic stress on a marriage.
Usually, a couple having children ages 18 or younger resulted in lower divorce rates. Yet during the pandemic, the number of divorce among parents with children ages 18 or younger increased by 5%, or 45% of couples.
It's not uncommon to work with parents who acknowledge that they didn't have problems in their relationship until their teen or young adult started experiencing problems. There can be difference in opinion on parenting. These differences can clash between mom and dad causing some heat and friction in the relationship.
We have therapists who also specialize in marriage counseling or couples therapy. We see couples of the teens we see for individual counseling as well as couples who do not presently have teens working with us.
The marriage is a foundation of any family. For teens and families to be successful, the couple need to be on a strong foundation. We help couples strengthen their foundation.
While the numbers of girls we served in the RTC was staggering, the number of teens, young adults, families, and couples needing support is not too far off. We also know that we are seeing but a percentage of those suffering and needing help.
With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it's important to know that if you are struggling, you are not alone. Even more important to know is there there are many options of therapists to choose from in Katy, Tx and the Houston area.
Katy Magazine recently came out with "An Essential Guide to Family and Individual Counseling Services in Katy". There are many of us around to choose from.
If you are struggling there are a lot of options available to you in our area. You will find the right therapist who you will connect with and who can help you. All you need to do is pick up the phone and call OR many practices you can email.
There are ANSWERS. There is HOPE. There is HELP in Katy, Tx and the Houston area. Take the next step . . .
Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Specialists in Katy, Tx & Houston
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in teen therapy, counseling for young adults, and family counseling. We also provide marriage counseling and couples therapy.
If you have a teen, young adult, or your if you need support in your marriage or family, and you are ready to start your counseling journey, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with one of our caring therapists
Start finding your answers that can help restore hope, happiness, and connected family relationships
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
In addition to teen therapy, counseling for young adults, family therapy, and marriage counseling or couples therapy, we also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)