Kids In Crisis Battles National Mental Health Emergency Among Youth

Kids In Crisis is on the front lines for what the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association have declared a national emergency in children’s mental health, citing the serious toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on top of existing challenges.

Kids In Crisis has supported the safety and well-being of Fairfield County youth for more than 40 years but has never experienced the demand and need for its invaluable resources more than it has since the start of the pandemic.

“There is no question that the pandemic has increased mental health challenges for our youth – especially for those who were already struggling. Our staff and volunteers feel the impact and increased insecurities every day,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director for Kids In Crisis in a release. “This is exactly why we are here. We want those in our community who need support to reach out to us.”

Calls to Kids In Crisis’ Helpline are up 19% overall this year and more youth are contacting Kids In Crisis on their own. Self-referrals to the 24-hour Helpline increased 71% this year compared to the same time last year. The most common presenting problems coming through Helpline are family conflict (51%) and mental health (23%). Usually not a top issue reported through Helpline, school problems currently make up 6% of all calls.

The Kids In Crisis shelter, SafeHaven – the only co-ed shelter for babies, children and teens in Fairfield County – already served more than 55% of the total shelter residents during Fiscal Year 2022 that it served all of last year.

Kids In Crisis continues to follow strict COVID guidelines to ensure the safety of the staff and the residents.

Two schools were added to the program and enrollments are up 15% this year for TeenTalk and KidTalk grew from a part-time program to a full-time program at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich.  Both TeenTalk and KidTalk pairs mental health counselors with middle and high school students throughout Fairfield County. The most common presenting problems have been anxiety (24%), depression (14%), and family conflict (10%). TeenTalk counselors have provided the following support and services in the first two months of school alone:

  • 406 students’ individual counseling
  • 969 one-on-one counseling sessions
  • 25 safety/risk assessments 
  • Four home visits
  • 479 collaborations with school staff and outside professionals
  • 256 cases of parent support
  • One student accompanied to the hospital

In addition to the Kids In Crisis programs fielding the most demand, all of the organization’s programs are growing based on community needs. SafeTalk, an in-school empowerment program for elementary students, expanded to all Greenwich public elementary schools and reached 159% more students in the first month of school this year than it reached in the entire 2020-2021 school year. In the first four months of Fiscal Year 2022, IAT and JRB have already served more than 71% of the total students served last year. Lighthouse Program serving the LGBTQ community provides a peer-to-peer social support group for LGBTQ youth and their allies.  The program recently expanded to a second site, providing an additional outlet for youth to meet with peers and get the support they need in safe, confidential settings.

“We anticipate further demand this holiday season – a time of year that can often bring increased stress, challenges and anxiety for those already struggling,” said Shapiro. “If you or someone you know needs support, call Helpline. We are here for you!”

Kids In Crisis’ goal is to connect with 25,000 additional children and families in need from 2021 to 2025 thorough outreach services. If you would like to learn more about this effort, please visit

Kids In Crisis provides emergency shelter, crisis counseling, and community education programs for children of all ages and families facing crisis. Crisis can include domestic violence, mental health concerns, homelessness, substance abuse, economic difficulties, and other critical challenges.

The Kids In Crisis Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, and provides free, confidential phone and face-to-face intervention, counseling, and referrals. Since its founding in 1978, Kids In Crisis has provided vital 24-hour services to more than 148,000 children and teens, and their families. More information can be found at Providers, educators, community members and family members are encouraged to call the 24-hour helpline for support: 203-661-1911.