The fall has begun—with all the anticipation of a new season—brisk weather, sports events, nature giving us beautiful arrays. In the schools-students are back in person—connecting with friends and learning together again.
And at Taos Behavior Health (TBH) we are moving ahead to support our clients who have experienced two and a half years of tough isolation and challenges to keep a healthy perspective on their future. Especially with our youth clients, we are working to help them reflect on their successes—their strengths, their determination to keep up school work and solve the challenges of on-line learning.
TBH Youth Support
TBH programs are at the core of community support for challenges presented by the COVID crisis. Once the schools stopped in-person classes, we realized that many of our clients did not have the family resources to provide on-line learning—via computer. We moved to quickly lease available spaces in Taos and established programs to fill the 9-3 school schedule by providing safe environments where clients were given support to connect to their on-line classes. In addition, they received group therapy sessions and physical activities and individual counseling. Once the schools realized the strong support our clients were receiving, they began referring other students to us. We were able to respond to some requests, but not all.
The success of our efforts is reflected in the fact that almost all of our clients were able to advance to the next grade level in spite of these deep challenges. TBH has 9 separate programs serving our youth. Each are designed with the unique challenges the community and families face.
Our Individual Programs—Some Examples
In Albuquerque, Dr. Cynthia Guzman leads a TBH program serving two elementary schools and a middle and high school. Eighty percent of the students are Spanish speaking with frequent involvement in the Children, Youth and Family Services agency and families with minimal positive experiences with the school. All of the staff are bi-lingual and familiar with the Albuquerque environment. Treatment plans which identified realistic goals resulted in a sharp reduction in referrals for family intervention and 90% of the students being promoted to the next grade level.
Led by Rosie Medina-Domingez, the Penasco program staff are all home grown and deeply devoted to their community. Flexible and creative, they jumped to responding to the crisis of forest fires threatening their community in the summer. With the leadership of TBH, space was rented in the Taos Christian Academy and students were bused to a daily therapeutic program that strengthened social skills and provided them a safe environment. The 61 clients were also treated to weekend events that included movies and athletic events that supported their emotional coping skills. Statistical reports on the program impacts have been presented to the Penasco School Board—who remain very supportive of the program.
This program serves “small schools” in Taos—Taos Charter School, Taos International School, ,Anansi, and Arroyos del Norte. The 46 student clients (with a waiting list of 11) are provided with individual and group therapy sessions and Telehealth counseling for those who are appropriate for this service. One innovative practice in this program is a collaboration with the Little Bear Healing Center where clients experience a rich variety of exercise, meditation, nutrition support and social and recreational fitness programs.
Currently, TBH serves approximately 580 youth clients. The impact of this work is far greater due to the family system focus of our work. We are always committed to working with the entire family whenever that is possible. In this community, respect for family behavioral health services is a special commitment we can all make.
We have come through a rough 2 ½ years. We stand ready to continue our impacts at TBH with innovative responsive programs. Staff report their greatest pride is that we are culturally sensitive, and creatively responsive to identified needs. We make a real difference in the lives of the community—stay tuned for more program stories.
Taos Behavioral Health has the largest staff of licensed and credentialed professionals and can be reached at www/Taos Behavioral Health.org, at 575-758-4297 and at 105 Bertha for scheduled appointments.
Mary Mc Phail Gray is the Board Chair of Taos Behavioral Health and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org