Local group raising funds to help 100,000+ children with mental health issues in Bexar County

Family struggling with mental health issues details experience

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Jennifer Galvan - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - The Junior League of San Antonio wants to help the more than 100,000 children affected by mental health issues by raising funds for the local nonprofit Clarity Child Guidance Center.

One in five children in Bexar County experiences issues with mental health.

One of the families that has benefited from the center is Gloria de la Garza's.

Garza has three children from 6 to 9 years old. Two of her children have autism, and one of them struggled with behavioral health issues.

"He was having a lot of physical outbursts," de la Garza said. "It ended up going to a little bit of self-harm. He was just hitting himself in the head."

She said her family felt lost when their 9-year-old autistic son began to really struggle last year.

"That was his way -- he didn't have any other way to express himself," de la Garza said.

It was behavior that de la Garza and her husband knew was beyond their care. She said when they took their son to Clarity Child Guidance Center, he was considered to be in full crisis mode.

Garza said she wishes she had known to get her son help sooner. But she said they found hope at Clarity Child Guidance Center, which treats children struggling with mental illness ages 3 to 17.

De la Garza's family isn't alone.

According to a Clarity Child Guidance Center study, 100,000 children in Bexar County are dealing with mental health issues. An estimated 42,000 fall into the serious emotional disturbance category. The study says only 22 percent of those children receive treatment.

This is why the Junior League of San Antonio has dedicated its 2019 Paving New Paths campaign to address mental health in the community by dedicating those funds to the Clarity Center.

The Junior League of San Antonio plans to renovate one of the center's buildings into an education center in which staff and community members will be trained on how to address mental health issues in children.

It's an issue that Junior League of San Antonio President Joy McGaugh says is time to stop viewing as a stigma and take seriously.

"There's a chemical imbalance issue," McGaugh said. "There's serious structural issues with the brain. It's a physical condition like (any) other physical condition."

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