NONPROFIT Shield Bearer Counseling Centers Organization removes barriers to mental health care A bout 18% of Texans have a mental illness, but statewide there is just one mental health provider for every 760 residents, BY DANICA LLOYD Shield Bearer provided 15,130 counseling sessions in 2022. The most common issues addressed and individuals served included: Severe depression and anxiety YEAR IN REVIEW: 2022 # OF SESSIONS
“THE PAST FEW YEARS WAS A UNIVERSAL
TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYBODY.”
Executive Director Thad Cardine recently released a book and said proceeds from sales will go back to Shield Bearer.
according to Mental Health America. The report states when compared to the rest of the U.S., Texas ranks the worst in access to mental health care. Local nonprot Shield Bearer Counseling Centers has been working since 2005 to remove barriers to counseling. The organization has nine locations in addition to telehealth oerings; clients pay on a sliding scale system and are not turned away due to inability to pay; and licensed practitioners oer exible hours and address a range of needs. Executive Director Thad Cardine said the COVID- 19 pandemic led to all 40 counselors being trained in telehealth. Increasing access during this time proved necessary as the need multiplied. The organization saw an inux of marriage issues and domestic violence as well as an increasing need for teens, children, rst responders, pastors and caregivers seeking help, Cardine said. “And then with the young adults and teens, suicide being a major component. We responded to more suicide situations in the past year than we did since 2005 when we started,” he said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide claimed 48,183 lives in the U.S. in 2021, which amounts to one death every 11 minutes. “The past few years was a universal traumatic experience for everybody in one capacity or the other ... and one of the things that we’re preparing for is that most traumas and most experiences like this, you don’t really get the eect for ve to 10 years,” Cardine said. “So it’s only going to grow—that need.” Shield Bearer provided 15,130 counseling sessions in 2022, and 65% were for a reduced fee. Cardine said individuals don’t have to have a mental illness or traumatic experience to benet from counseling. The organization also oers “easy-entry” oppor- tunities to learn coping skills and other helpful tools through support groups and educational workshops.
COURTESY SHIELD BEARER COUNSELING CENTERS
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES In addition to one-on-one counseling sessions, Shield Bearer oers support groups and workshops catered to specic audiences. Some examples include:
PTSD and severe trauma
42% telehealth sessions
FREE WEEKLY GROUPS
• “Good Grief” group meets Mondays from 1-2 p.m. to cover grief stages and remember loved ones. • “Skills Crews” group meets Tuesdays from 6:30- 7:30 p.m. with teens learning skills to navigate life. • “Adoptee” group meets Thursdays from 6:30- 7:30 p.m. for adoptees to discuss birth parents, adoptive parents and their experiences.
58% in-person sessions
FREE MONTHLY WORKSHOPS
Shield Bearer Counseling Centers 12337 Jones Road, Ste. 114, Houston 281-894-7222 www.shieldbearer.org Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun. • “Condent and Successful Parenting” is presented on the second Saturday from 9-10:30 a.m. • “Creating a Solid Rock Marriage” is presented on the second Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m. • “Managing Life for Young Adults” is presented on the second Monday from 6:30-8 p.m.
SOURCE: SHIELD BEARER COUNSELING CENTERSCOMMUNITY IMPACT
These activities also help break down the stigma one might feel around seeing a counselor, he said. “I think many of us don’t convey any type of judgment or pass along shame when we talk to other people who bring up [mental health], but I think there is a personal stigma that is still quite large,” Cardine said. Cardine said it’s important for individuals to recognize their limits and prioritize self-care to maintain mental health—whether that means taking a break, turning o their phone, practicing mindful- ness, getting a counselor or attending a workshop. “I see mental health kind of like a spiral; the people who generally call our number have fallen to the bottom of that spiral,” he said. “But prior to them hitting the bottom, there was a spiral, and so call before then. Call and get a check-up and just talk it through with a counselor and have them help you.”
CYFAIR EDITION • JUNE 2023
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