TAMPA, Fla. — During this pandemic, adolescents and teens have had faced some of the toughest times trying to deal with isolation.
According to the most recent Mental Health America survey, youth ages 11 to 17 were more likely than any other age group to have moderate to severe depression, anxiety, and even suicide or self-harming thoughts.
But, there's a local center that is trying to help, and it's free for any girl 11 to 18-years-old.
"We are focused on understanding and responding to the unique needs that girls have," said Emily Foltz Holland, who's a licensed mental health counselor and the Regional Reach Counseling Program Director at Pace Center for Girls. "Some of the girls that we work with have been victimized or have had power taken from them. And so we really work with them to figure out what they need to work to overcome that and start to feel safe again. And again, certainly, Covid has exacerbated those feelings of a lack of sense of safety."
Pace operates two free programs, which include a day program for both academic and social services. It also has a Reach Counseling Program, where treatment depends on what the adolescent has been through.
"It could be experiences of abuse and trauma. It could also be experiences of even community violence or feeling that social isolation. Maybe there's some parent-child conflict," Holland said.
And because this pandemic has been so mentally challenging on our youth, Holland suggests any adolescent still struggling should confide in someone you trust.
"It is really heavy and overwhelming to hold that all inside and finding someone that you can connect with, who can then support you and guide you to getting that right, kind of help and support," she explained.
And if you're the adult, responsible for a struggling child, realize you don't have to do it alone.
"It really does take a village to raise a child and if you do not have a village, then reach out and create one," Holland said.
The Pace Center for Girls has 21 centers across Florida and they're all funded in part by the Department of Juvenile Justice as well as the Department of Education and several private grants and donations. If you're interested in enrolling your child, go to their website here: www.pacecenter.org