Behavioral health clinic just for children opens in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A growing number of kids traumatized by violence in their neighborhoods has prompted Swope Health Services to create a behavioral health clinic just for children.

The new space helps encourage kids to open up about what's bothering them.

Swope Health Central spent $300,000 to create a bright, lively, kid-friendly environment where children would feel comfortable.

A large children's playroom is part of the new clinic where kids use toys to show therapists the pain they've experienced in their young lives.

Experts say children have difficulty talking about their trauma and acting it out through play helps therapists identify issues like depression, anxiety and stress.

"Most of them come in knowing violence happens," clinical supervisor Monica Dear said. "Knowing they are going to see a police chase, knowing someone might run through their yard running from the cops or chasing someone else. So it’s a very daily event for them."

More parents are recognizing anger in their children and seeking out therapy to help kids learn to cope with their fears and frustrations.

The new clinic adds more treatment rooms and the center hopes to hire three more child therapists.

Previously children were treated in the same clinic with adults and often were exposed to adult issues that didn't make them comfortable.

This new clinic is the latest example of the growth in mental health services that more people are seeking out.