13 Dec Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis

Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis

There is a critical shortage of behavioral mental health professionals throughout the country, and kids in need of trauma counseling are feeling the impact of this shortage most acutely. The need for counseling services has also intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, with thirty percent of parents reporting that their child’s mental health has worsened. In the fall of 2021, the American Association of Pediatrics declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health, citing a need for increased access to mental health services as well as increased funding for community-based systems of care. Over the last year, calls to the ReadyKids crisis hotline increased 27% and our waitlist grew to 74 kids.

ReadyKids counseling programs are addressing this critical need in our community by providing evidence-based, trauma-informed counseling services at no cost. In fact, ReadyKids is the only program providing trauma counseling at no charge to families in the Charlottesville region for as long as they need to heal. Our program provides counseling to youth living in Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa, Greene, and Nelson Counties. ReadyKids targets underserved populations, including communities of color, the uninsured, immigrants, non-English speaking clients, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and victims of trafficking. As such, we have consistently maintained a waiting list of kids in need of counseling services. 

In response to the critical need for counseling, ReadyKids has created a process for counselors to become Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). Typically, a license-eligible clinician would need to pay for the required supervision of a licensed practitioner while they work toward their licensure. Under the ReadyKids model, license-eligible clinicians employed by ReadyKids receive supervision from a licensed ReadyKids staff member at no cost, while providing much-needed counseling to participants. A grant from the Virginia Health Care Foundation is helping ReadyKids expand our youth counseling program by supporting an additional masters-level counselor. This partnership will increase the number of licensed behavioral mental health specialists in Virginia while also helping to alleviate the waitlist for children seeking critical counseling services in Central Virginia. Thanks to the funding from VHCF, Sarah Webber joined the ReadyKids team as a trauma counselor in February 2022.

It is a unique and amazing experience to supervise new staff as they enter the counseling field and begin the incredible work of healing for kids and families. New clinician’s bring fresh perspective and positive energy to the counseling field which can be a benefit for their supervisor and other clinicians with whom they partner. Specifically, Sarah brings energy, creativity, and a growth mindset into ReadyKids and her work with her children and families.”

                                   – Ashley Wood, Director of Counseling at ReadyKids

In FY22, ReadyKids youth counseling program, Inside Out, provided 4,285 hours of counseling to 430 kids and their guardians. This outcome would not have been possible without our team of dedicated counselors and funding from the Virginia Health Care Foundation, the Manning Family Foundation, the Murlan Foundation, and support from community partners. To learn more about ReadyKids, visit readykidscville.org.

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