MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — More families across the Grand Strand are seeking counseling and therapy post-pandemic for their children.

A pandemic within a pandemic, that’s what some experts are calling it.

The pandemic looks to be letting up. Now, medical professionals say children in our communities struggle with anxiety and depression. All while providers are trying to keep up with the growing demand for services.

Oceanic Counseling’s Clinical Director, Kenza Haddock, says the staff is overworked and hiring more licensed therapists to keep up with the demand for adolescent therapy.

“Instead of waiting to the point of no return, people are seeking more help. Parents are calling and saying I don’t have the right coping skills for my kid,” Haddock said.

According to the CDC, the percentage of mental health-related visits among pediatric emergency departments has dramatically increased across all ages.

The most recent data from the CDC shows an increase of at least 24% among children ages five to 11 years old, and 31% among adolescents ages 12 to 17 years old, that’s compared to pre-pandemic.

Mental health, counseling, and therapy centers across the Grand Strand are counseling more patients and trying to keep up with demand.

“We have to child and adolescent therapist who is starting within the next June 1 and July 1 because of the amount of counseling that is requested,” Haddock said.

Clinical directors are giving parents some tips. They say kids need less academic pressure and more structure and support.

“Routine is crucial. Encourage children to express how they feel. A lot of times, they learn by modeling. If mom and dad are showing assertive communication skills and express their feelings, the children will follow,” Haddock said.

The CDC said they recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 years old, a step that could get them back to everyday lives and lower mental health statistics.