City spotlights ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’

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Pinwheels designed by some of San Antonio’s most noted artists will be displayed across the city in honor of “Mental Health Awareness” month throughout May. (Photo/ Christina Acosta)

With May being “Mental Health Awareness” month, 15 local artists are putting their unique spin on an all-too-common ailment by way of pinwheels.

With an estimated 80,000 children in Bexar County struggling with mental health issues, highlighting the treatment options and dispelling the stigma often associated with such illnesses is the goal of “Mental Health Awareness” month.

“1 in 5 Minds” is a city-wide program sponsored by Clarity Child Guidance Center (CCGC) that also aims to underscore and improve treatment and access to it. The pinwheels were initially unveiled at a ceremony held at the San Antonio Central Library.

“The pinwheel is a symbol of joy and innocence of childhood…we need the power of the community to change attitudes and get more access to the care they need,” said Fred Hines, CCGC president and CEO. “The work of these artists sends a powerful message that we can all play a role in helping more children access healthcare.”

Among the artists taking part in the program include: San Antonio based artist Rex Huasmann, Carla Veliz, Kiel Johnson, Louis Vega Trevino, Jayne Lawrence, David Almaguer, Hector Garza, Kim Parker, Carle Rhodes Stephenson, Garry Sweeney, Steve Daluze, Cristina Noriega, Bruce Hahn, Larry Graeber and Albert Gonzalez.

Following their time on display, the individual pieces will be auctioned with proceeds going to the CCGC. The recent expansion to the CCGC campus now includes an outpatient therapy building. With a $22 million price tag, the new facility will be staffed by the UT Health Science Center’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“We worry for our kids because they suffer in silence as they fear being judges. That’s a worry we want to eliminate in this community. We need to advocate for our young people that need treatment before tragedy,” said Rebecca Helterbrand, senior vice-president for the CCGC.

Clarity provides treatment for children between 3 to 17-year-olds, while including all necessary social services on campus. The various phases of its expansion have created a bastion of mental health complete with recreational features like a gym, pool and climbing wall. The treatment side utilizes music and play therapy as well as traditional counseling sessions for groups and individuals.

CCGC was initially formed with the merger of the Southwest Mental Health Center and Child Guidance Center of San Antonio. The roots behind these organizations reach as far back to 1886. Yet the mission is the same–to provide mental health assessment and care in a convenient and safe environment.

“I love how these artists have such deep stories behind [their designs] since they really want to help these kids that have been disenfranchised for their illnesses,” continued Helterbrand.

For more information on “1 in 5 Minds,” visit www.1in5minds.org.

 

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