The Whole Community is Needed for Mental Health Recovery

May is “National Mental Health Awareness Month”

Jessica was ten years old when she realized her mother was in danger. Whether across the dinner table, down the hallway, or in her parents’ bedroom, she would watch in stunned silence as her father launched into verbal and, oftentimes, physical attacks on her mom. Then, she’d run into her little brother’s room where she could lock the door and hold her hands over his ears to try to muffle the screams. When the police finally came to arrest her father, she ran again; this time away from the social worker sent to retrieve Jessica and her brother, and place them in a new home.
Traumatic events affect people differently. For children especially, encounters with abuse or neglect can have a profound influence that, if unchecked, can adversely affect their mental health and relationships with others for the rest of their lives. In fact, according to Child Advocates of San Antonio, children in foster care experience mental illness at a rate of almost 30 percent greater than the average population of children. Additionally, youth in foster care are less likely to receive adequate treatment and services to address their mental health issues.
Counselors and caseworkers are not only the triage team, but also part of the recovery. These professionals play a crucial role in going beyond meeting children’s basic needs, delving into complex issues that can range from violent learned behavior, to substance abuse or even severe psychiatric issues, like post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
Trauma-informed care is today’s gold standard for working with youth in foster care. This methodology helps youth identify and articulate how past and present issues are affecting them. A safe environment, trusting rapport and careful listening helps counselors and caseworkers recognize mental illness and take quick action to address feelings that could prevent a youth from achieving success in school or at work, or trauma that could lead a youth to harm themselves.
Of course there’s no magic blueprint for identifying and overcoming mental illness. While counselors and caseworkers are the triage team, the entire community needs to be part of the recovery.
As May marks both “National Foster Care Month” and “National Mental Health Awareness Month,” BCFS Health and Human Services encourages all those in our community to be more attentive and sensitive to children whose misbehavior or strange actions may in fact be outcries from trauma. Connect children and families to organizations where they can get professional mental health support.
Together, we can improve the wellness of our entire community and prevent more innocent children like Jessica from suffering from mental health issues.
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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. At BCFS transition centers, local youth in and aging out of foster care and those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges have ”one-stop” access to case management, counseling, mentoring, educational opportunities, employment connections, housing location and legal service – all free of charge. 

Formal programs focus on equipping young adults with “real life” knowledge and skills, such as interviewing for a job, balancing a checkbook, healthy decision making, choosing a career path, teen pregnancy prevention and the consequences of being sexually active. 

BCFS Names Victoria Perez Director of Community Based Services – Corpus Christi

BCFS Health and Human Services has named Victoria Perez as Director of Community Based Services – Corpus Christi. In this role, Perez will oversee all programs administered through the organization’s Corpus Christi Transition Center, which provides resources and services for youth in and aging out of foster care and others who need assistance transitioning into “life on their own,” as well as families.
Perez joins BCFS with more than 20 years of managerial experience in the health and human services field. Throughout her career, Perez has served in several roles, overseeing and delivering important services to those in need, while also meeting and exceeding rigorous regulatory and professional standards.
Perez has been recognized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for her contributions in the care of offenders with medical or mental impairments, and by Texas Christian University for her work in HIV research. She holds a master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and is working toward a doctorate degree in Educational Psychology.
“Victoria is a compassionate and dedicated leader who knows what ‘right’ looks like,” said Ben Delgado, BCFS Executive Vice President – Community and International Operations. “Her energy and expertise are going to be key assets as we look to not only strengthen, but expand our services and partnerships in Corpus Christi.”
BCFS’ Corpus Christi Transition Center provides resources and services to youth between the ages of 14-26, with the aim of growing their skills and knowledge, strengthening self-confidence, creating healthy community relationships and learning positive self-guidance. Most of the youth served by the center have spent time in the foster care or juvenile justice system, or have battled issues like homelessness, substance abuse or truancy.
The center also offers parent education programs that show families how to resolve conflict and improve communication; improve children’s behavioral problems; as well as deal with complicated issues like strong emotions, aggression, alcohol and violence. Parents who participate in the program may receive other valuable services including free childcare, transportation assistance, and help receiving essentials like food, baby items and clothing.