August 2018

First Coast’s mental health crisis tackled by Child Guidance Center

Discover easy ways the community can help the cause

Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 27, 2018 – One in five children in Duval County has a mental health disorder and that number increases to 46 percent for 13- to 18-year-olds. Additionally, the number of Duval County minors who were involuntarily examined under the Baker Act increased by nearly 50 percent over the past 5 years.

“There is a clear and demonstrated need for adequate mental health resources for the children in our community”, says Dr. Theresa Rulien, President and CEO of Child Guidance Center. “Providing appropriate mental health treatment for young children will not only improve their physical and mental health outcomes; it can also mitigate many associated social problems, ranging from failure to complete high school, involvement with the criminal justice system, substance abuse and addiction, unemployment and homelessness.”

When a child’s mental health issues are not effectively addressed, they can manifest later in life in the form of negative behaviors, including violence to themselves and to others. Additionally, children who witness or are exposed to violence, such as the recent shooting incidents in our community can suffer long term impacts that affect their mental health as adults. Ensuring access to therapeutic counseling and other mental health supports for children affected by violence and loss is an investment in the present and future health and well-being of all Floridians.

Despite years of empirical research validating the critical importance of mental health services for youth who have been impacted by violence, poverty and other adverse experiences, access to therapeutic care remains a significant problem in Duval county.

A shortage of mental health professionals means that families seeking help for their children must wait weeks for an appointment with a therapist. Attracting more behavioral health professionals to this field remains a challenge because reimbursement rates are not competitive with other health care sectors. Medicaid only pays 60 percent of the actual cost of mental health services.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Florida has been designated as a mental health professional shortage area  because the available mental health professional workforce can only meet 28.8 percent of the state’s need.

We appreciate the Legislature’s quick action last spring in taking children’s mental health treatment seriously by providing additional resources for mental health services in schools. We can’t stop here, though.  The needs of our children transcend the hours they are in school each week. We need your help to ensure timely and appropriate services are available to all children in Duval County.

Here is how you can help:

–       Donate to Child Guidance Center so that we can continue to develop effective programs and provide much needed services to our community’s children:

–       Create a Facebook birthday donation to benefit Child Guidance Center:

–       If you or your organization are seeking philanthropic opportunities, we have several renovation projects in need of your time and talents. The Center has no designated funding for these projects and our needs are immediate.

Why invest in Child Guidance Center?

We are the pioneer of mental health programs on the First Coast and our sole focus is children and their families.

Your involvement ensures children will see you helping other people’s children and learn that their friends’ problems become our own, which brings us to the highest level of our own humanity.  After all, those who are children today are the future!

About Child Guidance Center

The mission of Child Guidance Center is investing in our community by providing mental and behavioral counseling and support services to assist children and families in reaching their fullest potential. Building on over 67 years of excellence, our vision is to improve the lives of children and families by offering a full range of comprehensive, state of the art behavioral health services. We engage in research and training programs to support continuous learning and improved treatment outcomes, while deepening collaborative partnerships to contribute to a thriving community. Since 1951, Child Guidance Center has specialized in helping children, adolescents and their families cope with the stresses of life. Our staff of professionals are committed to meeting the needs of children and their families. Child Guidance Center is the largest provider of children’s mental health services in Northeast Florida. Child Guidance Center serves over 6,100 children throughout the year. Outpatient offices can be found throughout our city. Services are also made available in the community by means of the schools and homes. Child Guidance Center also provides targeted case management and psychiatric services to those who would benefit.

Theresa Rulien is the President and CEO of Child Guidance Center. For over 67 years, Child Guidance Center has been the largest provider of mental health counseling for children on the First Coast, serving more than 6,100 children and their family members each year.