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Portland's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Portland, Oregon | KGW.com

Parents having to wait weeks to seek mental help for their kids

Children are experiencing isolation and feelings of depression and anxiety but it is difficult for parents to get them professional help in a timely manner.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mental health impact of COVID is being seen in elementary school kids all the way to high schoolers. 

Parents are finding that getting help is not easy and seeing a counselor can take weeks, if not months. Parents Brooke Higgs and Michelle Walker have kids in elementary school and they said that learning virtually and being away from friends has affected their kids' mental health.

For the last several months Michelle said she has noticed her daughter having a hard time staying focused. Both parents have tried to get them into a child therapist but that has proven to be a challenge.

“His first appointment was in January and the doctor said 'I’m sorry I’m so booked -- more so than normal I can’ see him for three weeks,'” said Higgs who’s son was finally able to see a doctor earlier this month.

Clinical psychologist Darci Walker with Core Parenting says many therapists are booked out six to eight weeks, if not longer. 

It’s the same challenge for Pediatrician Dr. Whitney Casares who works at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest. 

“We had to change our model to accommodate it so we can do a consulate model and see kids at 30 minutes at a time and triage and see how we can help them within the community,” said Casares.

She said she’s seeing kids who have anxiety, feel isolated and some who are depressed. Some advice doctors are giving to parents, they’re advising them to increase time spent together. Parents who are still waiting to get a child into see someone can reach out to their pediatrician to ask for a referral. Some therapists KGW spoke with are also increasing hours to try to accommodate the demand.