SAN MARCOS, Texas - The San Marcos Commission on Children and Youth hosted a planning meeting Wednesday to discuss the mental health needs of youth in the community.

  • Newly formed Mental Health Coalition to address mental health needs of youth
  • Goal is to provide mental health services before crisis strikes
  • Community members can be part of Mental Health Coalition 

The goal of the newly formed Mental Health Coalition is to find out ways to provide mental health services before a crisis. 

"Them forming the coalition is a step in the right direction," said Aubrey Ashton, vice president of the San Marcos Youth Commission. "If we don't talk about it, if we don't come up with any ideas, nothing is ever going to change."

Ashton uses her voice on the youth commission to represent young people in the city. She said the coalition will help her better speak to her friends struggling with mental health issues.

"I know at least five with something that's happening to them. So being able to figure out ideas to be able to help the people that we know is important to us," Ashton said.

A group of more than 50 people came to the planning meeting, made up individuals and groups working in the mental health field. Anne Halsey is the chair of Commission of Children and Youth, and led Wednesday's presentation.

"There's a national, statewide and obviously a local concern for the state of our children and their wellbeing and their safety," Halsey said. "I think that's a growing concern in this community and we want to figure out how we can work together to prevent crises from happening."

Representatives from places like San Marcos CISD, Texas State, Central Texas Medical Center, as well as mental health workers, first responders, social service and medical providers, and counselors began brainstorming.

"How can we as a community better work together to make sure that all of the needs of our children are supported?" Halsey asked.

The meeting's consensus was action must happen, with subcommittees forming, each with their own mission to raise awareness to mental health issues, and to drop the rates of suicide in Hays County.

"We know that six young people between the ages of 15 and 24 committed suicide and we also know that two children between the ages of five and 14 committed suicide. And as far as I'm concerned and I think everybody would agree with me, two children is two too many," Halsey said.

The subcommittees of the Mental Health Coalition that formed will: identify mission and goals and best practices; collect data of the latest statistics on mental health issues of Hays County; survey existing prevention and treatment services and identify potential gaps and how to fill the gaps; raise awareness and reduce stigma as well as community outreach; grant writing, funding and legislative engagement.

If you'd like to be a part of the Mental Health Coalition and/or serve on a subcommittee, contact Jessica Ramos, the city's youth services manager.

The Mental Health Coalition subcommittees will meet in January and the coalition will hold quarterly meetings. The coalition hopes to have a report completed by next spring.