Since the pandemic began, 46% of parents say their teen has shown a new or worsening mental health condition.

Sadly, teens are already at a higher risk for experiencing anxiety and depression, and we are only beginning to see the mental health effects of the pandemic on youth.

For Lucas, the weight of the world last year felt unbearable. His depression became so overwhelming that he started to self-harm, desperate to relieve some of the pressure he was feeling.

It may sound shocking, but the average age of a child’s first self-harm incident is just 13 years old. And, because glaring social stigmas often deter teens from seeking the help the need for the underlying mental health challenges, self-harm may feel like their only option.

Lucas’s mom, Theresa, felt helpless. She reached out to several mental health providers, but none could connect with her son on the level he needed – until they found Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS).

Branden, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with CHS, began working with Lucas through regular counseling sessions. Even in a pandemic, the pair would get together using Zoom or following safe, COVID-19 precautions including wearing masks and social distancing.

Branden helped Lucas understand and gain control of his emotions. He began to feel stronger, more confident, and found new hope for himself and his future.

“As a mother, I felt hopeless and didn’t know what to do,” said Theresa. “To have someone for him to go to and be able to express how he is feeling was amazing feeling. With [Branden] being there and being a role model, Lucas is night-and-day different to what he used to be. He is more social and is being with his friends more. It was a total blessing for someone to be there to help him.”

Lucas said, “I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but now I feel like I have a future.”

Children’s Home Society of Florida, a national leader in trauma-informed care, believes that no child, no family should face the tough times alone.

When children and families face hard situations, the CHS team empowers them to find – and pursue – opportunities for success and happiness.

With proven solutions in mental health counseling, early childhood education, child welfare, Community Partnership Schools and more, CHS meets children and families at the right time with the right services – no matter where they are in life.

To help meet growing mental health needs and put more children on the path to a brighter future, CHS launched its Family Support Warm Line providing direct access to a trauma-informed counselor by call or text. This service is free, confidential and available to anyone. To connect, call or text 1-888-733-6303 or visit CHSListens.com to learn more.