HOUSTON-Many times, mental health is hard to recognize or identify. Since the pandemic started in 2020, our world has become more perceptive to the need to address mental health and illness. It took the world to a standstill and made us collectively realize our mental health and well-being needed tender, love, and care. This was one of the tremendous residual benefits of the global pandemic. We are finally moving towards a better understanding of the need for and importance of self-care, mental health, and well-being.
Mental health is even more crucial for developing minds like our grade school scholars. The pandemic intensified the need for our scholar’s mental health to be addressed when students worldwide went to spring break and never returned to their beloved schools. Students had to reconstruct the way they learned overnight with educators who gave their best but lacked resources, technology, and understanding of the best strategies to assist their students during these unprecedented times.
Due to lack of work, limited resources, and uncertainty of the pandemic, many students were worried about their future. The need for mental health resources became a necessity and not an afterthought. During the height of the global pandemic, homelessness began to rise. According to Life Coach, Porsche Thornton of Virtuous Phoenix, LLC (www.virtuousphoenix.com), the main reasons many grade school scholars became homeless were economic reasons, such as parents or guardians losing their jobs, or not being accepted in their household because their family turned their back on them because they chose to embrace who they are as LGBTQIA+, or as simple peer pressure. These circumstances have led many young people to believe they are better off being homeless and figuring it out independently.
Dr. Janice Beal is glad to give them an alternative to deal with their mental health and wellness issues. Dr. Beal is a consultant and CEO of Beal Counseling Associates, providing individual, family, and group counseling services in Houston and New York. Dr. Beal developed a program for the Steve Fund called “Well Being in Color.” The purpose is to remove the stigma of mental health for our youth. Along with a team of mental health experts, they provided services to middle and high school students from the height of the pandemic to the present day. Founded in 2014, the Steve Fund is the nation’s leading organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.
Most recently, in Houston, during Mental Health Awareness Month this past May, Dr. Beal presented a forum entitled “Mental Health is Real,” “Let’s talk about it,” to the scholars of Kashmere High School. The panelists were Dr. Dashiel Geyen, Dr. Gina Evans Hudnall, Marita Padros, and LaKeisha Hughes, along with Dr. Janice Beal as the moderator. Dr. Beal believes this event brings us closer to changing the mental health stigma. Dr. Beal trained ROTC students as her ambassadors. There were over 350 students in attendance. Scholars discussed and answered questions about mental health, anxiety, and depression. Scholars also wanted to know how to cope with personal and family issues. Dr. Beal did such a great job that the students stayed after the presentation and asked numerous questions. This important event was sponsored by The Steve Fund, The Missouri City TX Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, Kashmere ROTC and Beal Counseling Associates. All scholars in attendance received t-shirts, and prizes were given.
Dr. Janice Beal is tackling Mental Illness head-on by joining our nation’s top medical experts at events such as the Youth Mental Wellness Summit, a call to action with Dr. V. Murthy, US Surgeon General, sponsored by Steve Fund and the California Endowment. These are the opportunities our youth need to get the resources, tools, information, and encouragement to find better alternatives to homelessness and running away from problems that will still exist if they don’t address them.
The reality is that some youth won’t take advantage of these fantastic resources, so we must tackle our mental health problems from multiple perspectives. We can’t forget those youth who aren’t ready to take advantage of these beautiful resources. Here are some other resources in Houston that meet homeless youth at any stage, such as Covenant House Texas https://www.covenanthousetx.org/, The Salvation Army Young Adult Resource Center (YARC) https://salvationarmyhouston.org/, MONTROSE GRACE PLACE https://www.montrosegraceplace.org/, and Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County https://www.homelesshouston.org/.
Dr. Janice Beal can be reached at http://www.bealbehavioralhealth.com. These organizations pride themselves on serving the Houston Community with love, care, and understanding. If you need help getting off the streets and on the road to a better way of being, please take advantage of all the resources mentioned. Our responsibility as residents of the Earth is to help our fellow humans.