Georgetown works to identify mental health issues in young people

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A new campaign bringing awareness to mental health issues in teens and young adults has kicked off in Georgetown.

Alex De La Garza continues to recover from a mental illness he believes began in small stages at a young age.

“I went from being like an extremely extroverted kind of out there kid, to someone who didn’t really know what they’re doing any more and I just shut down,” he said.

He began seeking treatment when he was 17 through both mental health services and family support.

“Being able to kind of let it all go in a good way and in a safe environment is definitely beneficial for recovery,” said De La Garza.

Family and church groups were key for De La Garza, but more help is out there. A mental health awareness campaign is now being launched in Williamson County aimed at teens and young adults like De La Garza.

The county has mental health services ready at a moments notice. Mobile Outreach is available 24/7 in the event of a mental health emergency, but they’re not the only ones.

“There are people all over this county who are happy to help and want to have a better understanding from the youth about the struggles they’re having,” said Williamson County Mobile Outreach Director Annie Burwell.

Organizers of the new campaign are aiming to start the conversation.

“Share it. You’ve got to share your stuff,” De La Garza. “If you don’t and you hold it in, it kind of eats at you.”

There’s been a strong effort to reach out to teenagers early on in the county. A program that started last year brought therapists onto the East View High School campus in Georgetown. That program continued this year. The school’s principal said the therapists can go beyond counseling, and help tackle issues students bring to school from home.

A report released Wednesday shows Texas isn’t doing enough to help those with mental health issues. Nearly 17 percent of adults in Texas have a mental illness, totaling more than three million people. While the need isn’t as high as it is in other states, the study found Texas is one of the worst at providing access to mental healthcare, ranking 47th. The combined scores put Texas near the bottom of the list for mental health at number 36.

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