San Antonio non-profit helps children with mental health problems

Jewish Family Service provides out-patient treatment

Children ages three to 17 who have mental health problems are brought to Jewish Family Service, one of many local non-profits that provide treatment on an out-patient basis to anyone in the community needing help.

"Often the children are victims of abuse or have been in a home where there has been domestic violence, and that's very traumatizing for them," said Michael Malinas, the agency's clinical director.

Malinas said thanks to federal funding, United Way and Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Jewish Family Service offers affordable outpatient counseling and psychiatric services for its young patients.

"Fortunately we're here and so are many other organizations that serve this population," said Malinas.

However, he said it is estimated 80,000 children in Bexar County do not get the mental health treatment they need because of the stigma attached and the cost of care.

"This is a reality. It is a sad reality," Malinas said. "Something that is a product of a lot of poverty or a lot of violence in homes and in neighborhoods."

Cesar Rivera, a Jewish Family Service counselor, said he also is seeing a lack of parenting skills among young couples.

"That reflects on the children and the children's behavior," said Rivera.

Rivera also said older parents make the mistake of "treating kids as friends, not kids." He said as a consequence, there are problems setting boundaries or limits.

In return, Rivera said their children often disobey or disrespect their parents.

Malinas said behavioral problems can become worse in time without proper treatment.

"Add in substance abuse and criminal behavior," Malinas said. "That's what I urge parents, seek treatment early."

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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