Big Mama’s Safe House helps the community heal from violence and trauma

Big Mama’s Safe House seeks additional funding to expand mental health services in the community

SAN ANTONIO – Elizabeth Casanova is getting the mental help she needs after the three sudden losses in her life, including that of her teen son to gun violence.

“It helps to just be able to just speak about it without feeling the guilt because I think it’s more so guilt that we parents have and then the pain,” she said.

Casanova is getting free counseling at Big Mama’s Safe House. She tried looking for counseling but was put off by the long waitlist. That’s one of the factors she feels her community faces when it comes to getting mental health services, “The financial part of it, I think, is what stops a lot of people,” she said.

The nonprofit has been offering free services to victims of violence in the community since the Summer of 2023. Licensed Therapist Denetria Brooks-James joined Big Mama’s Safe House to help people, “I love empowering people to get better and take care of their emotional and mental health,” said Brooks-James.

70 people have taken part in individual or group therapy. Brooks-James says as many as 50 of them are active clients, “Their emotional intelligence has increased and their self-esteem increases. And now they’re empowered to do better for themselves. And then they teach their children. And then hopefully their children will teach their children,” said Brooks-James.

Metro Health made $144,000 available for two years of community therapy at the nonprofit through the American Rescue Act Plan funding. The need is great, so they’re looking for additional government funding to continue to help more people. They are asking Bexar County Commissioners to commit to fund a second mental health specialist for the community.

Any professional who can commit to offering services for free is also asked to reach out to 281-509-1397 or

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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