As kids begin heading back to school, the hallway for some may not have a light at the end. Research shows mental health issues are hitting kids at younger and younger ages. In the state's third largest city, up until last week there was nowhere to turn.
Boys Town in Grand Island opened up their new behavior health clinic this week, the same time schools began to open their doors. Behavior and mental issues are often caught at school, say officials and sometimes even forged.
We had to have a meeting with the principal and the other parents, because it got so out of hand," said Charles Cummings.
When Cummings' daughter came home crying from middle school he knew something was wrong. "She's always been insecure about her shortness, and this really got to her, some of the boys were using names that were just really inappropriate," he said.
The Cummings, with the help of school officials, were able to work and stop the behavior but the damage had already been done. For many kids bullying can lead to depression and spiral down from there.
"A lot of people think of mental health as something severe, but adolescents is really difficult," said Dr. Tara Borsh, the director of Boys Town new clinic. "I have students coming to me even with minor things and how to work through them, it builds their self confidence."
It's catching the problem early, says Borsh, that before Boys Town was hard to do. "There's not really a lot of psychologists that can treat kids and adolescents," she said, which in turn is putting family practitioners in a difficult position.
"We've heard from pediatricians that they're really struggling because they find themselves
treating these kids and medicating them and they don't feel comfortable," said Borsh. Boys Town's clinic can do what school counselors and pediatricians can't, which has many in the field excited.
"It's one more outlet to provide to families of all ethnicities and backgrounds," said Erlinda Amen, a counselor at Shoemaker Elementary. "They're flexible with insurance, accepting Medicaid's program and funding."
It's vital, says Borsh, considering last year two thirds of kids that were diagnosed with severe depression, didn't receive treatment.
"Kids are growing up really fast these days with all the media they're exposed to, they know a lot more, the things they say it's just unreal," said Cummings. With ‘older' getting ‘younger,' as Cummings sees it, the schools, parents and doctors are keeping up by getting wiser.
"They have good stuff for the kids these days they didn't have when we were in school," said Cummings.
Contact Boys Town in Grand Island:
3230 W. Wildwood Dr.
Grand Island, Nebraska 68801