A few days ago I read an article in the Los Angeles Times that left me with a heavy – but ever hopeful – heart. The headline was: Surgeon General warns of emerging youth mental health crisis in a rare public advisory.” Click the link to the article in case you’d like to read it yourself.

One phrase stood out to me:

“Even before the pandemic, children from all backgrounds faced serious mental health challenges…But nearly two years of disruption took a toll and worsened their mental health – especially for groups such as immigrants, students with disabilities and students of color from low-income families.”

In fact, we’re hearing and seeing very similar crises among the youth and families we serve.

“Me siento impotente en mi casa.”
“I feel powerless in my home.”
~Construction worker who returns home late each night and his children won’t talk to him~
“Me siento frustrada.”
“I feel frustrated.”
~Mother of three who is depressed~
“Es como la maestra habla pero no entiendo nada.”
“It’s like the teacher is talking but I don’t understand anything.”
~Boy with ADHD~

 

But here is where I stand with Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy on hope for the future. He wrote: “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real, and they are widespread. But most importantly, they are treatable, and often preventable.”

Friends, with your support, we can do more of this treatment and prevention right here at El Futuro, building on what I already see happening every day. Just last week, we finished a five week class for Spanish speaking parents of children with ADHD. As we wrapped up at the end the parents were not only grateful as they talked about what they had learned but also suggested next steps. One suggested forming a WhatsApp group where they could quickly connect about challenges. Another shared an English language resource she had translated to Spanish so that parents could advocate for their children better in the schools. There was hope in the group because of the experience with El Futuro and being empowered to come together as a community and address their kids’ issues as well as head them off before they become problems. Our “treatment” is through a partnership with these parents and with each person who comes to us as we work to find better caminos or paths for the future.

I’m also hopeful because El Futuro is not alone in this work. Our friends at La Semilla, El Vínculo Hispano, LATIN-19, and other community partners are bringing an all-hands-on-deck approach to not just addressing the current crisis, but preventing the tsunami of mental health and other challenges predicted to come over the next decades as a result of the pandemic.

Finally, I am hopeful because I know that you are out there, supporting our work every step of the way. If you are able to give, I hope you’ll consider making a donation today. Donations in all amounts will support our ability to expand our services into a wrap-around, collaborative, and proactive healthcare model that can address today’s crisis while preventing further impacts in the future.

Although this is an unconventional request, I hope you will also consider supporting organizations like La Semilla, El Vínculo Hispano, ISLA, and LATIN-19. They are incredible partners, providing emergency food assistance, COVID-19 information and support, and many other youth and family supports for the Latino familias we serve and the larger Latino community. Together, we can get critical assistance to youth and families who are struggling today, while building a foundation for a healthier and more hopeful tomorrow. See below and enclosed for how you can help.

With thanks and all the brightest holiday wishes,

Luke Smith, MD
Executive Director and Psychiatrist

*Identifying details were changed to protect client privacy.

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