Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting our children and adolescents. Still a majority of children are left untreated even though there are effective treatments available. According to the Child Mind Institutes Mental Health Report, approximately 30% of children will be affected by anxiety, but only 20% of those affected will receive appropriate care. This is something that Nathan Fite PhD, founder of Child Anxiety Center in Cincinnati, is deeply familiar with.
“This project is personal to me. I can remember the first time I had a panic attack at 19 years old,” says Fite, who grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati. “I was walking up a flight of stairs and suddenly felt like I was dying. I had been battling low-grade depression and anxiety for months. I thought I could manage it, but on that day, my body had had enough.”
Dr. Fite was fortunate enough to make it through that low period with the support of his family. However, too many youth don’t, and are left suffering.
“After that experience, I enrolled in an undergraduate psychology program. Six years later, as I was working on my PhD at University of Cincinnati, the anxiety and depression found me again,” Dr. Fite says. “But this time, it was worse. This time, my thoughts had become obsessive and my behaviors compulsive. I went from a high-functioning doctoral student to questioning whether I could carry on, let alone finish my degree.”
He grew desperate to find help that was both accessible and effective. “At that time, a local 30-day residential program would have cost me $50,000,” Dr. Fite says. So, he took matters into his own hands.
Relying on his own expertise in behavioral psychology and ability to parse through research, Dr. Fite created his own personalized treatment plan, recruiting friends and family to help him along the way. That is not the way treatment should work and parents shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves to get their children the help they need. From that experience, the seeds for Child Anxiety Center were planted.
“All of the things that I went through with the mental health system — all of the frustrations I had and barriers I went up against: I used those experiences to create a practice that better serves youth and their families,” Dr. Fite says.
Child Anxiety Center offers evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy and medication management for children, adolescents and young adults.
“Our mission is to exceed the expectations that many mental health service providers have neglected,” Dr. Fite says. “That means doing things like providing accountability to parents for treatment outcomes by using progress monitoring data to inform treatment decisions. It also means providing more accessibility and crisis management, meaning that your child can seek and receive help when it’s needed and parents can have the relief of knowing they can access real-time coaching with only a mobile device. Also, as dually licensed school psychologists who are experts in special education law, the Child Anxiety Center conducts comprehensive psychological evaluations and helps parents obtain school-based services and navigate the red tape of 504s and IEPs.”
Treatments can also be adapted to any child’s circumstances. “If a child can’t leave the house, we will go there,” Dr. Fite says. “If the child needs support getting back into school, we will be there. We are also finding innovative ways to integrate technology like virtual reality, biofeedback, and smartwear to make high-quality treatment more engaging and accessible.”
Dr. Fite knows how it feels to stand in the shadow of an anxiety disorder, and is confident that his experience has helped him design the best possible care for every child.
“I also know what it’s like to come out the other side,” Dr. Fite says. “The team at Child Anxiety Center is ready to help you and your child achieve the best possible outcome.”