SAN ANTONIO – The Annual Pathways to Hope Conference kicked off Friday at the Tobin Center in downtown.
Organizations from all across the county are helping parents and their children shatter the stigmas of mental illness. One of the main focuses this year is bullying.
The topics have been discussed at large this year, following the signing of David’s Law and The Blue Whale Challenge game.
Organizers hope to get children and teens to come forward and simply talk about what’s on their mind.
“(I had a) hard childhood growing up,” says Jarred Gonzales, with Young Minds Matter.
He says he had to fight his own mental illness with the help of his mom, Crystal.
“My dad was a drug addict and a dealer at one point,” adds Gonzales. Depression had taken over him at the time.
“I had a big toll on me at one point my dad left us and when he left it was kind of like I felt it was my fault. I blamed myself and I dealt with depression and felt like everything was my fault,” adds Gonzales.
Gonzales’ personal battle is now a light to help others at the annual conference.
This year is the first time youth have been included in the event.
“The event is sponsored by many local health organizations including Bexar County’s Commissioners Court.
“(It’s) encouraging youth to come out and start talking about what is on their mind,” says Elizabeth Lutz, Executive Director of the Health Collaborative.
She says children and teens go through all kinds of stressors when they go back to school, especially when it comes to bullying.
“You no longer have to be in this classroom to be attacked it could happen at any point in time, and kids really want to have a voice,” adds Lutz.
At no cost, the conference gives parents and children access to all kinds of resources.
“(The) Clarity Child Guidance center wants to be here because 1 in 5 children is dealing with a mental illness that’s 80,000 children in Bexar County,” says Whitney Ball, Marketing Director, Clarity.
The conference offers resources to all kinds of counseling and community groups.
“Just turn to your support system listen to your child take note of the behaviors they are exhibiting,” adds Ball.
For some, it’s also a chance to turn the past around
“I’m glad it kind of happened because now I’m able to reach many lives and help many people,” adds Gonzales.
Anyone is welcome to come by. The conference continues Saturday,…