When Congressman Will Hurd asked two South San ISD students if there is stigma associated with mental health, Mark, a South San Antonio high school senior, immediately answered, “Of course. 100 percent.”
Mark admitted that he used to be part of the stigma because he just didn’t understand. He has since immersed himself in advocating for mental health for himself and his fellow students in South San ISD. By talking and listening to others, Mark has learned how to remove the stigma he had with mental health and create a movement in the community toward mental wellness for all youth.
And if a senior in high school can figure out how to remove the stigma and bring about awareness, why can’t the rest of us?
Creating a Solution
This is something that Congressman Hurd is trying to figure out. He visited South San’s CareZone on Thursday to hear from the youth experiencing mental health challenges and how the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative is part of the solution.
Mark told Congressman Hurd that the mental health challenges his peers face are usually related to issues at home, such as having to parent younger siblings; depression and bullying; and stress associated with succeeding in school.
The mobile collaborative was founded less than a year ago in response to the South San ISD students’ call for help. It solves a simple problem – how to bring mental health services to youth and their support systems (families and teachers) when transportation is such a big issue for treatment.
The six nonprofits that are part of the collaboration (see below) offer free services, including counseling for individuals, groups, grief, anger management and substance abuse. The collaborative also provides crisis intervention, parent education, psychological assessment, as well as teacher and administrator consulting and training.
Mental Health IS Health
During his visit, Congressman Hurd spoke with the youth and mental health professionals about how to make mental health as much of a priority as physical health. They brainstormed ways to fund programs like this in other school districts, and how to break the generational cycle that often times comes with mental health issues.
One thing everyone could agree on was that the more people talk about mental health, the easier it becomes for others to do the same.
“It’s about making mental health problems not seem like a unique issue to have,” Mark said. “And that it isn’t a weird thing, but something everyone goes through in different capacities.”
The San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative includes:
- Jewish Family Service
- Clarity Child Guidance Center
- Rise Recovery
- Communities in Schools
- Family Service Association
- Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas