As the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in early 2020, New York City is now experiencing some of the most devastating mental health repercussions, particularly among the city’s youth. Rates of trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicide among children and teens in the city and around the state have risen drastically as a result of isolation and loneliness, lost family income, the death of loved ones, and secondhand PTSD. In addition, 156,000 New York State teens struggle with substance abuse, according to the state Department of Health.
At the same time, access to New York behavioral health treatment has become increasingly limited. The lack of NYC mental health services—including in-school services, local therapists, residential treatment centers for teens in New York, and adolescent day treatment programs in NYC and surrounding areas—has far-reaching implications for the state’s youth.
New Research on Adolescent Mental Health in NYC
The Impact of COVID Deaths on Youth Well-Being
A report by the United Hospital Fund and Boston Consulting Group, released in late 2020, found that 4,200 children and teens in New York State lost a parent or caregiver to coronavirus during the first five month of the pandemic. More than 50 percent of those youth live in New York City. In addition to the trauma of losing a loved one, these children and teens also face additional risks to their well-being. The report estimated that about a quarter of these youth are at risk of entering foster care or being moved from their home to that of a relative. And half of those who lost a parent are at risk of falling into poverty. Even teens who did not lose a loved one often knew someone who did, and experienced vicarious trauma due to their constant proximity to the loss and fear surrounding COVID.
How Young People of Color Are Affected
The fallout from the pandemic has disproportionately impacted youth of color. Black and Hispanic youth were twice as likely as Asian or white youth to lose a parent or caregiver to COVID. Moreover, communities of color experienced more severe health and economic impacts as a result of inequities perpetuated by systemic racism. Police violence and political unrest also negatively affect the well-being of Black youth. These factors all contribute to the rising suicide rate among Black teens, which has increased more quickly than that of other youth demographics.
“Newport Academy was able to give my daughter the tools to dig deep and look at the things she needed to look at. It was a turning point, and there’s no question we made the right decision.”
—Denise, parent of a Newport Academy alumna
The Need for Outpatient and Residential Treatment Centers for Teens in New York
As adolescent mental health in NYC declines, state and NYC mental health services are unable to meet the growing need. According to Mental Health America’s 2021 rankings, nearly 60 percent of youth in New York State with major depression received no mental health services, as compared to 55 percent the year before. Hence, 85,000 youth with depression had no access at all to New York behavioral health services. Moreover, only 20 percent of youth with severe depression received any consistent care—not surprising given that there are only two child psychiatrists per every 10,000 youth in the state.
In addition, a report from the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) showed a shortage of guidance counselors and social workers within the New York City school system. The report found that among 1,600 schools in the city, 898 were operating above the recommended ratio of one guidance counselor per 250 students, including 161 schools with high school students. This shortfall is significant, because for many children and teens, schools are the only place to access NYC mental health services.
Furthermore, Black and Hispanic youth are even less likely than their peers to receive mental healthcare due to obstacles including language barriers, limited availability to culturally competent care, and lack of health insurance. In addition, they may be less apt to seek care due to higher levels of mental health stigma within their communities.
of NYC high school students have attempted suicide
NYC teens report feeling sad or hopeless each month
1 out of every 1000
children and teens in New York State lost a parent or caregiver to COVID
of NY youth with depression receive no consistent care
youth in the state were diagnosed with substance use disorder in 2020
Is proven to reduce symptoms of adolescent PTSD, anxiety, and depression
How Newport Academy Is Addressing the Lack of NYC Mental Health Services
Newport Academy supports adolescent mental health in NYC and New York State through our outpatient and residential treatment programs in nearby Connecticut, as well as our locations throughout the country. Our clinical team specializes in addressing the specific needs of this age group, including the situational depression and collective trauma catalyzed by the pandemic. Consequently, each teen’s tailored treatment plan is designed for their unique history and circumstances as well as the societal challenges that all adolescents are currently facing.
Because depression and anxiety don’t typically go away on their own, and can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts, it’s critical for teens in New York to receive effective, evidence-based care. Newport Academy’s integrated, comprehensive approach is based in compassion and driven by data. Our outpatient and residential treatment centers for teens in New York provide a variety of clinical, experiential, and academic modalities.
Our Admissions experts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to work with families and referring professionals to find the right fit for teens, whether that’s the structure and support of an outpatient program or the healing environment provided by residential care. Contact us today at 866-520-0688 to get started on the path to healing.
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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 Apr; 39(3): 463–474.