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Northeast Tallahassee mental health experts see increased anxiety in kids; groups push lawmakers for change

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-18 18:44:30-04
  • Local mental health providers from across the state, including Northeast Tallahassee's Apalachee Center, met with state lawmakers ahead of the legislative session.
  • CEO of the Apalachee Center Dr. Jay Reeve says kids in our community are struggling with anxiety in higher rates.


According to the CDC, the number of children and teens facing anxiety has nearly doubled in the last decade.

One area group is working to help lower that number with the help of the Florida legislature.

I'm Kendall Brandt, your neighborhood reporter in NE Tallahassee.

I spoke with parents in the area about that rising number and the leader of the Apalachee Center on what's next.

The CDC says more than 5.8 million children and youth struggle with anxiety.

That is up 1.8 million from 2007.

"Our young people are living in a time of war."

That's Melanie Brown Woofter.

"Stress that we haven't seen in a number of years, decades even."

She's CEO of Florida Behavioral Health Association.

She took to the capitol steps Wednesday to advocates for agencies like the Apalachee Center.

That center is based in my neighborhood, Northeast Tallahassee.

"I think it's easier to get mental health services than it has in a long time."

Doctor Jay Reeve leads the center.

He says the effects of COVID are still causing issues with young people he meets here. says mental health awareness has been helping over the years.

"It's striking."

It's not just professionals noticing an increase in anxiety.

I spoke with five Northeast Tallahassee parents who did not want to be on camera.

They all told me they worry about the rise in anxiety and depression among youth.

Woofter says the best advice to those parents is to lower the stigma and communicate.

"When they reach the teen years, they always want to talk to their friends and not their parents. We have to educate not only our teens but also our parents to in how to have that conversation."

With the power in numbers, Woofter says she'll continue her mission to work with lawmakers on prioritizing mental health through funding groups like the Apalachee Center and beyond.

"We've got a really good base from the last two sessions and we gotta move forward with that."

While each parent I spoke with today says they are worried about the rise of anxiety, each told me they hope to build an open line of communication with their kids to remove stigma from the conversation.