Funded by The David and Helen Gurley Brown Trust (now known as the Pussycat Foundation), BridgeUp at Menninger provides “Magic Grants” to local organizations and schools to spark measurable improvement in the mental health status of communities.
For Galveston Independent School District, receiving a Magic Grant was a catalyst to launching “Causeway Galveston.” Originally devised as a pilot project, Causeway Galveston promotes resilience and emphasizes the critical link between healthy relationships, mental health and academic success for vulnerable adolescents. And it’s working.
As a private-public partnership, Causeway Galveston comprises Galveston ISD, Family Service Center of Galveston County and Teen Health Center, Inc., as well as collaborators from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Center for Global and Community Health, and Behavioral Health and Research program. Together, the partners have developed a thriving, multifaceted approach to equip students, families and teachers with mental health knowledge and to identify and refer youth in need of mental health care.
“Causeway Galveston is a sterling example of true collaboration,” said Patricia Gail Bray, PhD, director of BridgeUp at Menninger. “The network removes barriers to mental health care for adolescents and increases access to much-needed services.”
In addition to creating a vital mental health network for school communities, Causeway Galveston is educating teachers and students in evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies to enhance students’ life skills, behavior and, ultimately, overall success. During the past year, nearly 350 teachers, administrators, nurses and counselors received training on SEL strategies and ways to foster positive adolescent relationships to reduce school violence. More than 1,100 at-risk students participated in Causeway Galveston’s SEL and healthy relationship interventions, which are integrated into the school day. Nearly 200 students were identified for additional learning and behavior intervention, and approximately 75 students were referred for mental health services.
“Many kids have behavioral risks, are living in poverty or simply have things going on in their lives that create mental health challenges,” said Beth Auslander, PhD, mental health director of Teen Health Center, Inc. “But we’re here for them, every day. And the students know that.”
Causeway Galveston is currently available at three Galveston ISD secondary campuses. The program has experienced so much success that another local funder — the Moody Foundation — has stepped forward to help expand the program across the school district.