Florida in need of child psychologists, new studies show

ORLANDO, Fla. — A shortage of child psychologists is causing many kids to go without help for months, even years.


A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows youth risk behavior for high school students is worse for young girls than boys, with almost one in three girls seriously considering suicide.

Tamara Frazier spends her days working in the Parramore community where residents have been plagued by homelessness and violence for years.

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She says part of the issue is that children need mental health services, but most are struggling to get it.

“Not having the resources just means you don’t have the tools just to make different decisions,” Frazier said.

Data shows mental health services are lacking all over the state of Florida.

The recently released American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Workforce Map shows just how many child psychologists are available in Central Florida.

In Orange County, there are 39 pediatric psychologists available. In Seminole County, there are just 11. Brevard County has 11 available, and Volusia County has nine.

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Lake, Marion, and Osceola Counties all have just six child psychologists available combined.

This all comes at a time when youth mental health is declining.

The academy found that in 2020, one in six young people experienced a major depressive episode.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old.

The academy’s data shows only half of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need.

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Doctor Don Grant of Newport Health in Central Florida says the wait is causing kids to show up at the emergency room when they can’t get time with a therapist.

“Only 4,000 of 100,000 clinical adolescent practitioners, according to APA, are available,” Grant said. “You’re also talking about, how do you identify if your child needs help before?”

When asked whether the shortage of help is the result of a lack of people in the practice, or demand being so high that there just isn’t enough to go around, Grant said he thinks it’s both.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.