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One short year ago, I spoke with six mental health nonprofit CEOs about an idea that wasn’t found anywhere in the country. The idea was simple: Bring a variety of mental health services and education into the schools where they are so desperately needed. Each partner is a piece of the puzzle in providing a holistic approach to mental health and substance abuse for students, as well as their families, teachers and the administration.

After a lot of meetings and negotiations, the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative was created and South San ISD was chosen as the school district where we would host our pilot program. They were chosen because a group of high school students advocated for the need of mental health services in their community.

“These services are very important in our community because a lot of the services that have been provided before were not meeting the time frame of the students and they were missing school. Also, the previous options weren’t serving the bilingual community. The Collaborative makes sure that the services are convenient, free and affordable for anyone in the district and really gives that transparency that the students need.” – Marc Mendiola, South San Antonio High School Senior

A child with anxiety can learn coping skills. A group of young men can talk through the social pressures they face. Teachers have the best mental wellness resources to help their students succeed. This is our program and so much more.

 

A mental health movement is happening.

Leaders stand in front of the Care Zone logoI am so proud to be part of a movement in San Antonio that is making mental health a priority. Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is looking at as much of a mental health crisis as it is a physical and financial crisis.

I recently reported on the Collaborative’s pilot year to the South San ISD Board of Trustees (see the video below). The CARE Zone, where the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative is housed, has been open since November.

I had the privilege to inform the Board that the Collaborative served 187 people through individual or group counseling, and more than 1,300 people received consultations or education. This response is more than we ever could have imagined in such a short time.

And the program’s Pandemic Pivot was to go virtual – telehealth, parent resources, online training, videos and more. The good news about the virtual aspect is that, in the future, it will be a way that the program can continue in the summer and other school closures.

What is next?

Now that the pilot year is ending, you may wonder what is next.

First up, Philanthropitch.

philanWe are honored to be chosen as one of seven finalists for Philanthropitch San Antonino this year, a fast-pitch nonprofit competition. Unfortunately, the live event was cancelled in late March, but a virtual version will be held June 8-15. Please watch our video that week and vote if you can. Money raised by votes will go directly to our program.

Learn more here>

Next is expansion.

We are in talks with several school districts and higher education about expanding the program in a systematic manner. We are also honored to continue our partnership with South San ISD next year. We look forward to sharing more news about these partnerships when the next school year starts.

 

Major Impact in the Community

I highly encourage you to watch the presentation and the comments from trustees at the end of the presentation. Hearing their support was so heartwarming and validated the hard work our Collaborative put in this past year to better the community. This comment from Trustee Stacey E. Alderete validates the positive affect the program made in a short amount of time:

“Thank you for all your hard work. I was a very lost parent before y’all came…It has made a major impact in our lives and thank all of you very, very much. It means so much.”

The Collaborative’s presentation starts at 12:18 in the video and goes until 35:40. 

 

Building this program has been the highlight of my career.

Knowing we are able to support and help these families during this time – it is life-changing for me. This has been a gift to me that I was able to be a part of this Collaborative. Thank you to the CEOs of our collaborating partners for their efforts this past year.

My goal is that we continue to grow this program across the city, state and nationally so the all school districts are able to provide a holistic mental wellness approach that works for them.

 

Talli Goldman-Dolge is the CEO of Jewish Family Service. She is a very visible and vocal advocate for mental health awareness and programs in the San Antonio community, and is involved in similar activities on a national scale. Talli earned a B.S. Degree in Drama Therapy and a M.S. in Education and School/Community Counseling from SUNY (State University of New York). She has an outstanding history of leadership and service in counseling, as well as the hospitality industry, including Walt Disney World. Growing up in a family actively involved in Jewish affairs, Talli exudes passion for the value of Tikun Olam (repairing the world).