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From the Desk of Talli: February’s JFS Mental Health Event

By Talli Dolge, M.S. – JFS CEO

When I started my job as CEO of JFS San Antonio 10 months ago, I could never have imagined putting together a community mental health event with eleven partnering agencies, schools, and hospitals. On February 27, 2019, JFS and Rise Recovery sponsored this community mental health event. The name of the program was “Well, My Kid Is Resilient, Right?” | Conversations and Mental Health Resources for Today’s Parents.

The concept for this evening began with a conversation with Rise Recovery CEO Evita Morin. The conversation began with how could our organizations collaborate with bringing an educational program to the parenting/caregiving community on mental health resources?

As we began discussing how and what the program would look like, we began sharing our own stories. These stories were of growing up in a time where mental health challenges were never really discussed. We talked about the limited resources that we had as children for dealing with these challenges.

As we did a deep dive into our pasts, we also began seeing the lack of resources that today’s parents have when it comes to understanding their own mental health and the mental health of their child(ren). Even in the age of technology, resources can be limited, or dare I say, wrong. The internet can be a tricky place to get the proper help.

This program was to provide this to the San Antonio community, by beginning the conversation, which many may be fearful to begin.

I get it – mental health can be tricky and uncomfortable to discuss, but even harder to ignore. We ALL deal with mental health challenges throughout our lifetime as nobody is immune. This program was going to be a jumping off point.

One of our goals, we hoped, would be to begin to silence the stigma of mental health, but knew we could not do this alone. To have the biggest impact possible, we would need to bring together local partners who were on the frontlines of mental health solutions every day. As the planning continued, we reached out to several partners and were overwhelmed at the positive response. Soon this program idea turned into a community reality.

Our partners for the event included Rise Recovery, Alamo Heights ISD, Children’s Bereavement Center, Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Clarity Child Guidance Center, Eating Recovery Center, Family Service Association, NAMI San Antonio, NISD, and Michelli Ramon.

In the process, our wonderful Mayor got on board and created a Facebook video as well as an introduction to the evening. He stated the importance of this event, and his own dedication to the mission of this program in both of his messages. The event also received recognition by KSAT News who did a wonderful report on our program, stressing the impact that it would have for the community at large.

In the end, we had 150 attendees that night from the San Antonio community. The evening was full of parents asking questions, learning, and sharing about their children and thoughts on mental health. Each participant was given a toolkit to go home with that included resources and tips for parents that all the partnering organizations put together to share.

Throughout the night I sat and listened as these brave parents and caregivers shared their stories with one another, and began to build their own community. The walls were slowly being brought down on a subject so many of us hide from.

In the end, we were asked to continue this as an educational series for parents. There are sponsors and new partners wanting to be a part of the next event to help continue the message of destigmatizing mental health.

I cannot begin to tell you the pride I have in this event, and JFS for accomplishing a monumental task of putting on this impactful evening. I am overwhelmed with all the people wanting to see this shift and change in how our society looks and reacts to mental health needs. I could not be more proud of the work that JFS does, and now of the educational impact that we can have.

On behalf of JFS and Rise Recovery, we hope you are able to join us October 2019 for the next event in our multi-part mental health series.

We are seeing so many incredible things with the work and care that JFS does on a daily basis. I am so proud and honored to now say we can add education and pre-intervention to our long list of services.

 

~ All my best, Talli