Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Steve Hicks Institute provides mental health funding to communities around Texas

Emma George

The Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work is funding 15 underserved communities around Texas to advance innovation in health prevention services, according to a recent press release.

After receiving funding from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the institute selected various communities to participate in Innovative Healing Centered Projects, according to the press release. IHCPs promote mental health wellness and substance abuse prevention through non-clinical and community-based approaches.

“This healing-centered approach is a different approach to prevention that we’ve seen,” IHCP project manager Amy Schryver said. “We’re hoping through this healing-centered approach, the communities will be able to see what their community stands in need of.”

The projects encourage innovative practices to aid mental health, such as yoga-based programs and peer mentorship, according to the press release. Community partners will also provide referrals to individuals who may benefit from clinical assistance. The funding is also aimed to support younger Texan residents from six to 25 years old and their families. 

“Serious mental illness tends to onset between the ages of 16 to 25 years old, but individuals in that age range are the least likely to engage in mental health care,” Amplify Center founder Deborah Cohen said. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that we structure our healthcare systems in the United States. and abroad to be pediatric and adult care. That age group tends not to have ongoing relationships with providers when the symptoms start.”

According to data from Mental Health America, around 16% of youth ages 12 to 17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Additionally, nearly 60% of youth with major depression did not receive any mental health treatment.

Further, young adults ages 18 to 25 in the U.S. have the highest rates of mental health concerns, according to Forbes Health. Experts in the article say the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated young people’s mental health concerns. 

“There was an increase in substance use and other mental health (issues) because of COVID-19,” Schryver said. “This project is really looking at addressing that issue.”

Rainbow Days, a Dallas-based nonprofit, plans to use the funding for more creative practices, such as a camp specifically for homeless children, Rainbow Days CEO Tiffany Beaudine said. The non-profit also focuses on curriculum promotion to train schools and organizations to support youth.

“(TIEMH’s) funding is just instrumental,” Beaudine said. “A lot of times you’re restricted by funders to do a certain scope of services. This allows us to try innovative practices to promote healing as we’re trying to make youth and ultimately our communities healthier.”

Another community partner based in Laredo, Serving Children and Adults in Need, will create a new program focused on promoting positive action curriculum targeting students in the fifth through eighth grades, quality assurance specialist Melissa Ramirez said. The program will also provide screening and referrals for adolescents and young adults ages 16 to 25.

“If it wouldn’t have been for the funding we received, we wouldn’t have this program,” Ramirez said. “It’s a wonderful thing because we are able to provide services to additional people. We’re really grateful for what that means to our communities.”

While various community partners started receiving funding at different times from March to August, the funding will continue on a monthly basis until August 2025. 

“It’s really encouraging to think about all the unique and impactful services we’re going to be able to provide through this grant,” Beaudine said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of those we serve.”

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About the Contributor
Emma George, Comics Editor
Emma is currently a Spring 2023 Comics Editor. She is a junior civil engineering major whoe loves to draw, read, and visiting art museums. She has previously been a Comics sStaffer and Comics Senior Illustrator.