TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After receiving a $1.1 million in combined grant awards from East Texas Medical Center Foundation and Texas Health and Human Services, Tyler-based nonprofit Next Step Community Solutions will expand their mental health services for local students.
Next Step Community Solutions provides free, quality mental health services in 60 schools and juvenile probation offices across north east, east and central Texas.
Next Step’s model addresses the link between substance abuse and mental health.
“This new funding could not have come at a better time. I get frustrated by the lack of mental health supports for young people in our communities, and these grants will go a long way to help.”
Brandon Davidson, Director of Operations and Programs
in 2020, Next Step will work on nearly 60 school campuses providing individual counseling to roughly 900 students.
The organization will train 300 adults in how to support young people and expand campus-wide suicide prevention on eight new campuses.
Davidson estimates that program alone, Sources of Strength, will impact thousands of youth.
A recent study by the CDC reported that more than 40% of respondents experienced at least one negative behavioral health issue related to the pandemic.
Next Step’s substance abuse coalitions—The East Texas Substance Abuse Coalition, The Piney Woods Substance Abuse Coalition, and the Northeast Texas Coalition Against Substance Abuse—serve nine local counties.
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in September found the frequency of use of both alcohol and marijuana is increasing
“We know students are facing more stress than usual in their everyday lives, and stress puts teens at risk for substance abuse, so our prevention teams have been meeting with local leaders across the region to educate parents and help keep drugs, tobacco, and alcohol away from our kids and teens.”
Rebecca Smith, Coalition Program Director.
in 2019, Next Step’s coalition helped law enforcement destroy more than 1,000 pounds of unused prescription drugs through the disposal drop box initiative and has distributed 7,500 perscription drug disposal pouches with the help of food banks, hospices, pharmacies and local law enforcement across north east Texas.
In addition, the coalitions are working with more law
enforcement agencies than ever this year to promote the national DEA Takeback event October 24th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To see a list of locations, visit easttexasrx.com.
In partnership with local retailers and restaurants, the coalitions placed more than 4,000 stickers last year, encouraging parents to talk to their teens about underage drinking and not to provide alcohol to minors during the Super Bowl.
To see a list of counseling locations or to request services for a local child or teen, visit nextstepcs.org.