Catholic Charities launches COVID-19 helpline as teens experience mounting stress and pressure

Posted at 3:46 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 11:48:47-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “Starting fights in school, getting in arguments with teachers. I was very disrespectful. And at that point in time, I didn't know why.”

When Craig was 16 years old, he said his mind wasn’t right.

“In the 2000s and the '90s we didn't have mental health. We didn't know. We just though kids like me were disrespectful and just not well mannered,” he said.

Craig says it wasn't until things got dire -- that he asked for help.

“At that point, I was literally like contemplating suicide.”
“He had that meltdown one day when he was about 16 and luckily he did say, you know, ‘you need to get me help,’” said his mother, Lynn. She works at Catholic Charities and called its Monsignor Carr Institute to get her son the help he needed.

Craig was diagnosed with Bipolar-2.

“From a parents' perspective — it helps you so much to get that name. To know what's wrong with your child, finally,” said Lynn.
Right now, experts say there are likely an increasing number of teens who need this same kind of help.

“I think its important to make it known that this is something that's not just happening in Western New York, it's literally happening around the world,” said Jessica Whitley, the clinical supervisor at Monsignor Carr.

“They're stressed about school. They're struggling with stress about not getting the social interaction. And we're also, obviously, seeing worry about family members.>”
Whitley said things are very different now in a lot of ways -- including how many of the clinic’s new patients are being seen.

“[We are] using video platforms to meet with their clients. And tele-therapy. So, we can either talk to our clients that we're seeing on the phone, or we can see them face-to-face. All of our offices are actually still open.”

The most important thing to note is that the help is still out there for anyone who might need it.

“It's important for the parents to be a part of that therapy, because family support is huge,” said Lynn. “It's huge. It means a lot for us,” added Craig.
Catholic Charities has a new COVID-19 helpline for anyone who needs to be connected with services between the hours of 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.

Staff can help with mental health and substance abuse counseling, making arrangements to obtain food from one of the organization’s food pantries, or provide assistance with housing, utilities or other related basic living needs.

That number is 716-218-1419.