Addressing the Rise in Youth Anxiety

Jewish Family Services of Delaware, a leading provider of counseling and support services for over 120 years, has launched a new program to address the rise in youth anxiety and, subsequently, reduce the rate of substance use disorders and other mental health concerns in youth and teens.

Led by Director of Clinical Services, Michael Angelo LPCMH, and clinical psychologist Dr. Angelica Montalvo Santiago, whose therapeutic specialties include pediatric psychology and anxiety, JFS Delaware’s Youth Anxiety Program will offer a safe space for youth ages 7-13 to unpack, understand, and challenge anxious thoughts. Through an 8-part series employing evidence-based practices, tools, and curriculum, group members will build and strengthen their confidence and skills to successfully cope with symptoms and solve problems.

Today’s youth are facing increased pressure to succeed while living in a world that is scary and threatening—recent years have included increased experiences and exposure to school shootings and drills, hate crimes and social unrest, cyber-bullying, and, now, a deadly pandemic adding and amplifying stressors. Beginning in the years just before puberty, such pressures and traumas often lead to excessive worrying and anxiety, interfering with the ability to socialize and learn; if untreated, this anxiety can lead to serious mental health problems including depression, substance use, and even suicide. Despite concerning statistics published by top researchers, additional studies on adolescents have indicated that treating anxiety can reduce many potential negative outcomes including the risk of teen suicide and substance use.

“This program will offer participating youth and families the tools to learn how to identify and understand anxiety in its different manifestations, whether they’re experiencing physical or psychological symptoms,” shared Dr. Montalvo. “Children participating can also benefit from the group support that happens naturally when sharing experiences with one another and working as a team with the clinicians’ guidance.”

JFS is committed to also serving parents and guardians of the youth enrolled by providing support services and resources. “It will allow parents to feel empowered as caretakers and to avoid over-accommodating for their children’s anxiety,” Montalvo explained.

JFS Delaware’s highly trained team is committed to meeting the changing and growing needs of the community, strengthening families, and helping children grow up emotionally and physically healthy.

Having joined JFS this past year, while the program was in development, Dr. Montalvo shared further:
“I feel proud to join an agency that is dedicated to offering preventative and specialized mental health services. This program aligns perfectly with my passion to strengthen children and families and support them through difficult challenges and changes. . . We have built a team of knowledgeable, motivated clinicians with diverse backgrounds and clinical experiences who have invested time in training and prepared for over a year to implement this evidence-based intervention. . . we are all very eager to begin addressing the high need of specialized anxiety services in the state of Delaware.”


Those interested in the Youth Anxiety Program can call JFS’ Intake Department for more details, including dates and locations, and begin the registration process.

Learn more information about Mental Health Services at JFS or start your therapy journey today by submitting an online intake form. Contact our Intake Department at 302-478-9411 x306 or if you have any questions.