On Wednesday, June 23 the Taos Behavioral Health (TBH) SUCCESS program organized a special salute to the youth we have worked with over the past 17 months. From 9 to 11 a.m. the staff and students in the SUCCESS program passed out free burritos to students we have worked with, and additional ones recommended by their schools.
An Idea for an Important Time
This idea emerged from a conversation and brainstorming between Eric Mares, the TBH clinical director and the staff of the SUCCESS program. The presenting idea was—“Our youth have been through an amazing period of stress and sorrow. How can we let them know how much we care—that we will continue to be there for them?”
On Monday June 7th. the SUCCESS program’s Summer Camp started at 112 Dona Ana Drive in Taos. A great deal of reflection immediately was shared—“We made it! Things are beginning to return to normal!” Yet the scars are real. Teenagers in general do not have strong coping mechanisms—and when stress is added to already weak processing skills, it has at time been overwhelming. Dealing with the Pandemic posed many fears—would they get sick? What about their family members—particularly in 3 generation households? How can I keep in touch with my friends? What if my schoolwork is not well done and I cannot pass to the next grade or graduate?
Supporting Families and Students
Now that the school year is officially over, some students are attending summer session to recover their grades. A number of these students have had frustrating and limited access to the online programs –especially in a family with several youth vying for one computer or tablet. TBH is supporting them with ongoing lessons on how to ask for help, how to explain what is frustrating them and how to celebrate every success.
TBH was there with an all-day program for those students whose parents were not comfortable with their on-site attendance. A great deal of this work involved keeping open communication between teachers, school social workers and administrators and TBH staff. One school social worker commented that she had 130 phone numbers on speed dial so she could continually check on students she works with and keep the TBH staff informed. One TBH clinician commented—“We were continually working in crisis situations and had to invent our responses. No one has ever deal with this depth of tension and fear in our clients.”
Planning for the Fall
So now TBH and Taos School administrators are looking forward to the fall opening—believing it will all be in person. We are planning together to provide on-site space to continue to serve our clients through this transition and new world. There are unexpected challenges—sophomores will be entering their fall classes in a building they have not experienced as a site for their education. Freshman will enter the high school without the usual orientation and preparatory visits at the end of 8th. grade. There will be a need for volunteers to help answer questions and guide students in the first weeks of classes.
Celebrate on June 23!
But for now? Let’s celebrate and tell our students they are champions! We gave out 200 tickets for burritos—to all our clients in middle and high school. Ranchos Elementary and the High School and Middle school staff identified students they wanted to honor and encourage and gave tickets to them. Our SUCCESS building is at 112 Dona Ana Drive—across the street from the South Side Spa. The Staff and student attendees were there at an outdoor table to say “We care. Do not be alone. We are here for you, and you made it through!”
Special appreciation needs to be expressed to Mantes Chow Cart for providing a generous price for the burritos, the staff of Taos International School and to the great SUCCESS team that planned and hosted this community event: Brenda Zamora, Amanda Munoz, Travis Ely, Daisy Bustillos, Miguel Quintana, Alyssa Medina, and Che Mondragon. You build a stronger more caring community!
TBH has the largest licensed and credentialed behavioral health staff in northern New Mexico. We can be reached at 575-758-4297, at 105 Bertha St. in Taos for scheduled appointments, or www.taosbehavioralhealth.org
Mary McPhail Gray is the Board Co-Chair of TBH and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org