Greater Austin YMCA’s New Program Addresses Mental Health Crisis

Published On: August 18, 2023Categories: Blog

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” — Helen Keller

In a world facing unprecedented challenges, mental health has taken center stage as one of the most pressing concerns of our time. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed a deeply concerning trend: suicides in the U.S. reached a new high in 2022. This sobering information should not come as a surprise as in the last few years the U.S. Surgeon General, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association declared that there was a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Additionally, earlier this year the Biden administration announced new actions to address the nation’s mental health crisis. It seems that we are at a tipping point where suicide is commonly being used as a coping mechanism for managing distress.

The provisional CDC data for 2022 paints a grim picture, showing proof in the form of data, that our nation is in fact facing a profound mental health crisis. As we come to terms with these numbers, it is essential to identify and amplify strategies that combat this devastating trend. Mental health professionals, community leaders, and organizations have a vital role to play in turning the tide on this crisis.

As our society grapples with the implications of this distressing reality, The Greater Austin YMCA is working to actively address the mental health crisis in our community with the establishment of the Everline Counseling Program. Using a holistic approach to mental health, this program embodies the YMCA’s commitment to strengthening the community’s mind, body and spirit. The Everline Counseling Program acknowledges these alarming statistics and is responding by providing accessible and effective mental health support.

Recognizing that stigma and financial barriers often deter individuals from seeking help, the program offers a safe and non-judgmental space in our local YMCA centers where YMCA members and community members from all walks of life can access high-quality, low-cost mental health care. Whether through in-person or teletherapy sessions, the program ensures that help is readily available to those who need it.

Currently, we are partnering with the counseling graduate programs at Texas State and St. Edward’s Universities to serve as an internship site for counseling students completing their final clinical internship requirements before graduation. As a licensed marriage and family therapist for the last seventeen years, I will serve as the YMCA site supervisor and clinical director for the program. Our plan is to grow Everline Counseling to include additional licensed mental health professionals to assist us in meeting the unique needs of the community and ensuring that we can offer in-person sessions in each of our eight centers. Today in-person sessions are available at our East Communities and North Austin centers. Teletherapy is available to YMCA members at any of our centers and to anyone in our community or the state of Texas. By offering culturally sensitive and personalized counseling, the program creates a safe space for individuals regardless of your zip code, ethnicity or gender identity.

As we confront the challenges posed by the alarming CDC data, Everline Counseling is looking to collaborate with local healthcare providers, schools, and other community organizations to create a united front against the mental health crisis. By pooling resources and expertise, we believe these partnerships will amplify the program’s impact and reach.

The rising suicide rates in the U.S. are a stark reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive and compassionate mental health support. It is our hope that the Everline Counseling Program at the Greater Austin YMCA serves as an example of the power of community-driven initiatives and how collective efforts can make a tangible difference in the lives of those struggling with mental health issues in our community.

Get more information about and make an appointment with Everline Counseling here.

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