Lubbock County is double the national average for child abuse and neglect.
“We’re at 26.2% while the national rate is 11.2%,” explained Pediatric Mental Health Counselor at Covenant Children’s Hospital James Atkison.
An anonymous donor in our community saw a need for someone to help these children cope with the traumas going on in their lives.
And thanks to that person, Atkison’s job was created at Covenant Health to help.
“If they trust you, even a little bit, that’s the start of everything,” Atkison said.
Atkison helps kids going through different traumas and it usually starts when that child goes to the ER.
“Usually I help with the emotional trauma when we have a child come in that’s suicidal or just dealing with stressors that they’re not able to handle,” explained Atkison. “I get a lot of reports of bullying in schools. A lot of times the kids just feel overwhelmed by things, we tend to put a lot of adult pressure on our children.”
Atkison uses cognitive behavioral therapy to get them the help that they need.
And there’s a huge need for these services in our community.
“This is a great addition to our departmental service line,” explained Christine Neugebauer, Manager of Integrated Care at Covenant. “To include pediatric mental health to children who have gone through trauma or having issues with adjustment is filling a gap that we have had.”
Atkison says he hopes these children will gain skills that will help them not only now, but for the rest of their lives.
“It’s much easier to teach them the coping skills now,” Atkison explained. “As an adult we kind of get set in our ways and we don’t want to talk about things that are traumatizing to us or worry us. So if you can treat it as a child and teach them the skills early those are skills that stay with them their entire life.”