PEOPLE Engage & Heal Foundation President Amelia Floyd and board member Kathleen HassenFratz The Engage & Heal foundation is a local nonprot
BY GRACE DICKENS
2022 HEALTH CARE EDITION
Travis ISD graduate who died in 2018. President and co-founder Amelia Floyd works along- side board members such as Kathleen HassenFratz, a licensed professional counselor, to illuminate issues around teen mental health. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
organization dedicated to erasing the stigma surround- ing mental health through education, connection and conversation. The organization was formed along with the Erik Hanson Scholarship in 2019, memorializing the 2017 Lake
story YOUR BUSINESS HAS A the same things.’ And boom, they shut it down. It’s the listening and the probing and the curiosity, and the desire to connect with the kid at that level. The rst and foremost answer to that is really to be a good listener. And unfortunately you know how challenging that is. Because people hear things, but they don’t necessar- ily listen. If I say, ‘Oh my God, it’s so hard. There’s so much competition to get into college, and everybody’s going to,’ and the parent goes, ‘Don’t worry about it. When I was a kid, we had but you just have to look for length of time. Has this been going on for a couple days or is this several weeks, and now months? Was it a sudden onset? It is complex. But what we feel is, it starts with relationships. And I don’t think anyone can argue with that. Whether it’s a teacher in a classroom, a parent with a kid, you with your next-door neighbor, if we will just stop and actually look people in the eyes and begin to acknowledge people, their existence, that they matter. IN RECOGNIZING THESE BEHAVIORS, WHAT CAN THOSE AROUND AN INDIVIDUAL DO TO HELP?
ask for help, and there are too many families that do not have the access, the means or the resources to get the help that they need. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WARNING SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS? Some of the most prevalent ones are going to be people who have pre- vious suicidal attempts, preoccupa- tion or obsession with death, severe depression, and are actually making nal arrangements. Obviously if someone was cutting or someone is acting out in severely risky behavior, those would be other signs. Those are like what you assume you’re going to see. But what we’re now knowing is that, obviously, kids have great coping mechanisms, especially for looking at teenagers. They are a little bit more dicult to distinguish whether it’s suicidal ideation, or sim- ply adolescent development, because it’s things like change of appearance, change [in] a group of friends, loss of interest in activities that normally brought a level of pleasure, disrup- tion of sleep. So much of it looks like [what] your standard teenager can, Kathleen HassenFratz
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ORGANIZATION? The organization is mental
health-based, and it’s a community collective. We are trying to erase the stigma that surrounds mental health and shatter the silence. We have found that most people feel unheard and disconnected, and it’s a dicult space. It’s getting a lot more play, and the topic of conversation is coming more to the forefront, but it’s still a dicult conversation. HOW IS ENGAGE & HEAL WORK ING TO REDUCE STIGMA SUR ROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH? We’re trying to establish an educational intervention platform by working with Integral Care on a men- tal health rst aid training as well as some peer-to-peer and parental train- ing through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We’re hoping that we can work with our schools. Whether public or private, we’ve started to make inroads, and we’re hoping that these collaborations … can help us to help people better understand the mindset that mental illness is not just bipolar, schizophrenic, it is also anxiety, depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse. People are afraid to
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES The Engage & Heal Foundation oers a library of resources to support mental health issues, such as: • Mental illness and substance abuse in young adults • Suicide prevention • Support for family, partners, parents, teachers and community members • Crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth • Guidance for how and where to nd treatment • Links to local and nationwide organizations • Information on health care options and coverage
For more information on the Engage and Heal Foundation, visit engageandheal.org.
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LAKE TRAVIS WESTLAKE EDITION • JUNE 2022
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