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Nonprofits, schools stepping up to assist children in need of mental health help

N.Y. nonprofits, schools address growing need for more psychiatrists
N.Y. nonprofits, schools address growing need for more psychiatrists 03:35

OLD BETHPAGE, N.Y. -- Breaking the Stigma: Children and Mental Health is a series of special CBS News New York reports on the mental health crisis.

While New York state ranks high for the most child psychiatrists per 100,000 children, it is below the "mostly sufficient" threshold with 29 psychiatrists per 100,000, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

CBS2 is taking a look at the ways nonprofits and schools are stepping up to fill in the gaps.

"I could have just had an anxiety attack. As soon as I step into the studio, my whole mind shift changes," 16-year-old Willa Rothschild said.

READ MOREHarlem teens take action, bring mental health plan to lawmakers

In Old Bethpage, classes are filled at Attitudes In Motion.

"It offers them a safe space, somewhere they can come and work and really succeed at something," the dance studio's Toni Maestre said.

"Dance, for me, is definitely something that really helps with my mental health," 17-year-old Madison Grady said.

Nonprofit agencies like North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights, which are bilingual and bicultural, are stepping in to help children and families with anxiety and depression.

"If you don't address it now as children, you don't have a healthy adult," CEO Kathy Rivera said. "We see the population with those symptoms getting younger and younger. We are treating 4-year-olds."

One 13-year-old, who was being bullied at school, was teetering on the brink.

"It started affecting me in third grade," Jovanna said. "I would get really sad a lot and have anger problems, and back then it was like the end of the world."

Jovanna became the hero of her own story, gaining strength and confidence with honest reflection.

"After a while, I started opening up, and then I really started getting help, and I started feeling better about myself," Jovanna said.

READ MORECDC report: 30% of teenage girls say they have seriously considered suicide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 3 in 5 teen girls admitted to persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness -- 1 in 3 seriously considered attempting suicide.

"If you need help, we can come out and help you where you are at, in the community, right there," said Jeffrey Friedman, CEO of Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Service in Hicksville.

Parents of children ages 10-21 make the call to Central Nassau Guidance and services are rolled right in.

"Sometimes, we're just there to listen and so, in building that rapport, people begin to open up," one worker said.

Private rooms or vehicles for telehealth counseling are funded by the state for families in crisis -- many insurance companies won't cover mental health.

"A lot of parents will private pay, where fees can be $800 an hour," Friedman said.

A mental health team is at the ready at Central Nassau Guidance, but not everywhere. That's why more schools are creating spaces for mental health therapy.

The Wellness Center is an oasis inside Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School.

"It's a great place for people to calm down, de-stress, talk about problems," said ninth grader Chris Srour, who is often inundated by sports.

"With the Wellness Center, you can come with your friends and even by yourself," said eighth grader Alanna Borden, who admitted she's often overwhelmed with academics and clubs.

"I am glad we are equipped to have these resources to be able to reach these students," Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School psychologist Chanei Patterson said.

At Kellenberg Memorial in Uniondale, student breaks are surrounded by soothing relief -- calming therapy.

Despite the obstacles around children, there are real opportunities for hope and healing.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call or text 988 to speak with a trained, caring counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also chat online with a counselor at

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