UP Partnership’s Restorative Practices Collaborative aims to increase inclusion practices for local boys and young men of color​

UP Partnership's Restorative Practices Collaborative aims to increase inclusion practices for local boys and young men of color

Did you know that in Bexar County, Black students represent 6% of the student population, yet they represent 11% of out-of-school suspensions, according to a 2020 Texas Education Agency report. This statistic is due, in part, to punitive and exclusionary discipline practices like suspensions and expulsion and those types of punishment affect students of color through isolation, alienation, and criminalization.

This is where UP Partnership’s Restorative Practices Collaborative focuses their work.

The purpose of the Restorative Practices Collaborative (RPC) is to change systems to scale restorative justices in classrooms and communities to increase a sense of belonging and connection for boys and young men of color. The RPC serves all students of color, with a focus on boys and young men of color,on twenty-one campuses, in three partner districts, in partnership with Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center, the Restorative Practices Collaborative, strives to reduce those disciplinary practices that disproportionately impact young students of color.

Through monthly community building sessions and providing and sharing data to track progress and share best practices, the RPC seeks to strengthen relationships and provide alternative methods of discipline practices through a comprehensive, focused, community driven strategy. We work with our long-term partners, American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions (AITSCM) and Empower House, to deliver Community Building Circles to Judson ISD, Harlandale ISD and San Antonio ISD.

As we progress with our Future Ready Bexar Plan and its collective North Star, to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030, the Restorative Practices Collaborative’s work is deeply rooted in the equity pillar of healing.

Along with access and voice, healing is one of the identified must HAVEs, an acronym that aligns with the pillars that lead toward equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. Young people will be future ready when they all have the developmental relationships and healing supports they need. By focusing on healing traumas and fostering positive relationships with adults, we will increase high school completion and participation in programs outside of school, while also reducing suspensions, expulsions and juvenile court appearances.

We kicked off the final semester for the current Restorative Practices Collaborative cohort with principals and district leads from the three school districts previously mentioned, so please stay tuned for a recap of that powerful event. A new cohort will start in 2023.

We are all in this together. It will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan.

If your organization is ready to join in on the Future Ready movement, please contact us at admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to our work here.

You can also follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media.

Diplomás network has tangible impact on Latinx students in Bexar County

Diplomás network has tangible impact on Latinx students in Bexar County

Today we kickoff Hispanic Heritage Month—a month to appreciate and celebrate the culture, history and diversity of Latinx communities. Introduced in June 1968 by Congressman George E. Brown, the celebration was originally only one week long. It was extended to the now 30-day celebration by President Ronald Reagan and was formally adopted into law on Aug. 17, 1988.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year. While the Sept. 15 start day may seem odd, it is important and relevant considering Sept. 15 is the day of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, followed by Mexico’s independence day on Sept. 16 and Chile’s independence day on Sept. 18. The month ends three days after Día de la Raza (“Race Day”), held Oct. 12, a prominent holiday celebration in many Latin countries that honors the rich history and culture of a pre-colonized America. 

As we begin this month of celebration of the Hispanic culture, we would be remiss to acknowledge the difficulties and disparities that continue to impact our Latinx communities.

At UP Partnership, our network, Diplomás, is a collective impact effort that unites 23 cross-sector partners to increase the college attainment and quality of life of San Antonio’s Latinx youth

Diplomás’s core beliefs center around economic viability as it ties to the success of Latinx students, college access for everyone and shared responsibility between community partners in student success. Therefore, at UP Partnership, we  focus on creating alignment between community partners, streamlining college admissions resources and supporting Dreamers in getting into, and completing, college. 

Providing ACCESS to postsecondary opportunity is the foundation of Diplomás, and is one of the three equity pillars, along with HEALING and VOICE, that our recently  launched Future Ready Bexar County Plan is rooted in. Those equity pillars have been identified as the must HAVES for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people.  As we work toward our collective North Star goal, to increase the percentage of Bexar County High School graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030, the work that Diplomás does is integral to reaching our goal. This work will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Plan.

If your organization is ready to join in on the Future Ready movement, please contact admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to the work here.

You can also follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media.

How young people can improve relational skills

Four ways young people can improve their relational skills

Throughout life, everyone will have different relationships varying from siblings, parents, friends and partners. Relationships take a lot of work to maintain, so below are a few ways to help you better your relationships.

For all relationships, it is important to be honest. In romantic love, it can be scary to admit how you feel or what you really want early on. You don’t want to waste your time in a relationship if it won’t go anywhere. It is best to be honest about your opinions, beliefs, and expectations for your relationship. Do not ever settle for less than what you deserve.

With community, it is important to admit to your siblings, friends, or even your neighbors how you truly feel. If you don’t express how you feel, it will just fester inside of you. Leaving it be sometimes feels like the high road, but the only one getting hurt is you. Express how you feel in a calm way and let your words be heard.

For parental love, it is vital to be transparent. Sometimes our parents can be aggressive towards us with expectations, grades, and even discipline. Without communicating how they hurt you, they may continue to do so unknowingly. You have to advocate for yourself. Be honest with your parents at some point with your sexuality. Although it is frightening, believe me, you shouldn’t have to deny a part of your identity. My parents were able to accept me as I am now, but it took time and uncomfortable conversations.

The very last thing I want to talk to you about is your relationship with yourself. Look in the mirror, be completely honest, and ask yourself, “Have I been loving my body, personality, or myself to the fullest?” If not, you need to begin your journey of self-love. First, the most important thing is to change your negative self-talk with positivity. Although this takes some practice, you will begin to see your mood boost. Next, you should pamper yourself in whichever way makes you feel better. This can be a skincare routine, self-date, a walk, or even buying something you really wanted. Whatever it may be, it should be a way of showing appreciation towards yourself. Over time, you will love yourself endlessly from the stomach rolls to the tears.

Relationship types can vary but improving them is part of the process. Practice being honest and loving yourself one day at a time.

Trinity, Alyssa, Shradha

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant, and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you to The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Walking with a Future Ready Coach

Walking with a Future Ready Leadership Coach

UP Partnership's CEO discusses the benefits of coaching sessions to support organizations with Future Ready action commitments

There is a large, framed photograph in my family’s home that I absolutely love. It was taken years ago by a friend of mine while walking through a forest. The picture shows sunlight arriving at the forest’s edge, breaking through a thick collection of trees.

When looking at the photo, you can see yourself as the walker, as someone who pressed on even when light was hard to find, knowing it would appear again if only you kept advancing.

Similarly, leadership, almost by definition, requires walking into the unknown. To discover new possibilities, all leaders must enter the forest. They must leave behind the safety of the meadow, stepping beyond comfort zones to emerge on new ground.

At its core, coaching gives leaders someone to walk besides them to stay on course, especially when the woods grow increasingly dense.

However, it is key to not get stuck in the darkness.

This is why UP Partnership has trained several leaders in our organization as leadership coaches and started to provide coaching supports to our partners. It is also why we are offering coaching to institutions that have signed onto the Future Ready Bexar County plan, partners who are working together to make sure all young people are ready for the future. This offering is for executives, senior leaders and/or leadership teams.

UP Partnership is offering three free sessions per organization to support your organization with your Future Ready action commitments. Your designated leader or team could begin either this Fall or in the Spring. Sessions will focus on: individual leadership growth, strengthening team relationships, working together across departments, strategic planning, operational planning and/or organizational development. If this offering would be helpful, fill out this form to express your interest. Importantly, we will continue to offer coaching for youth development professionals through Excel Academy, which helps them to strengthen their program quality.

By creating space for intentional reflection, coaching helps leaders to navigate the unknown conditions around them as well as the many unknowns within themselves. It can help you to spot pitfalls, recognize patterns, understand biases, and integrate relevant feedback. Without this awareness, these are all forces that can keep you walking in circles for years.

At its core, coaching gives leaders someone to walk besides them to stay on course, especially when the woods grow increasingly dense. A great coach is a partner that helps leaders to step towards the forest’s edge; provoking new awareness until the light starts to shine through.

Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, Ph.D.
CEO of UP Partnership

Local nonprofits looking for high school-aged artists to submit artwork for an upcoming exhibit

Local nonprofits looking for high school-aged artists to submit artwork for an upcoming exhibit

SAY Sí and UP Partnership aim to showcase young artists’ during the WE ARE NOW 2022 exhibit in December

San Antonio, Texas (August 24, 2022): SAY Sí and UP Partnership’s network, Our Tomorrow, invite diverse young artists from local high schools grades 9-12 to submit artwork to be considered for a curated hybrid art exhibition now through Sept. 30. Art mediums accepted can range from items such as photography, painting, illustration, video, to poetry, performance and others.

Once all submissions are received, a committee of professional judges will review each piece and make decisions on what will be used for the exhibit. Final selections will be announced by November 2022.

Artists chosen will be featured at the WE ARE NOW 2022 art exhibit that will be held at SAY Sí’s headquarters at 1310 S. Brazos St. on Dec. 10, 2022.

Artists are encouraged to explore the following themes:
Self-Discovery: Since 2020, we’ve experienced so many changes. In the last couple of years, What have you uncovered about yourself or your perspective on the world around you? Consider how the changes around you have developed new views in your life: new perspectives on mental health, social injustices, cultural understanding, and more. Let your artwork be a reflection of yourself, who you are and what you believe in.

Social Activism: While youth around the world face socioeconomic, political and cultural struggles, how can artistic expressions explore some of the most relevant social justice issues of today? From COVID-19 casualties, gun violence, school shootings, police brutality, reproductive rights, and racial discrimination to financial loss, mental wellness and social unrest, youth have raised their voice to empower themselves and others through resilience, creativity and community.

About SAY Sí: SAY Sí is a national award-winning year-round, long-term, nonprofit arts-based youth development program for San Antonio area students in grades 6-12 that provides opportunities for these students to develop artistic and social skills in preparation for higher educational advancement and professional careers. SAY Sí programs serve over 200 students from all of San Antonio’s school districts – in addition to serving 3,000 youth in community programs. SAY Sí accepts diverse students from all areas of San Antonio, but first priority is given to students from inner-city schools and low economic households. SAY Sí’s unique approach to education has placed the organization on the national stage, with recognition as one of the top out-of-school-time organizations in the country by The Wallace Foundation on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. More recently, SAY Sí was one of seven international youth arts organizations chosen to receive an inaugural Creative Catalyst Award by Adobe Project 1324 on Tuesday, February 8, 2016. Creative Catalyst Awards are given to organizations across the globe that support and inspire the next generation of creatives. For more information, visit www.saysi.org.

About UP Partnership:
Founded in 2009, UP Partnership is a San Antonio-based nonprofit that convenes partners in Bexar County that provide healing, access, and voice to local youth to create equitable systems and ensure that all young people in the county are ready for the future. UP Partnership believes that making sure all of our young people are future ready is our entire community’s responsibility. This mission is ambitious, challenging— and achievable — if we organize our efforts. UP Partnership drives a countywide strategy through collaboration, data sharing and advocacy. Its work is conducted through collaborative efforts with its partners that focus on education and youth development initiatives through its networks of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, Diplomás, Excel Beyond the Bell and Our Tomorrow.

Envisioning a Future Ready Community: 3 pillars that guide our plan

Envisioning a Future Ready Community: 3 pillars that guide our plan

It is the responsibility of everybody in the community to ensure that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, UP Partnership will work with a collection of partners, across varying sectors, in a collaborative effort to reach a collective North Star goal, which is to increase the percentage of Bexar County high school graduates enrolling in postsecondary degree or credential programs to 70% by 2030.

This is, without a doubt, an ambitious undertaking, but we also know that the framework of the Future Ready Bexar County plan will support and facilitate the differences required to attain that North Star. The plan is centered around three equity pillars — healing, access and voice, the must HAVEs for equity amongst Bexar County’s young people. Throughout this article, we will address how each of these pillars will ensure that young people in Bexar County are future ready.

Pillar One: Healing — Young people will be future ready when they all have the developmental relationships and healing supports they need. By focusing on healing traumas and fostering positive relationships with adults, we will increase high school completion and participation in programs outside of school, while also reducing suspensions, expulsions and juvenile court appearances.

Pillar Two: Access — Young people will be future ready when they can all access high quality education and career opportunities. By ensuring young people have crucial resources and support, we will increase postsecondary enrollment and success, as well as access to key technology needed for success.

Pillar Three: Voice — Young people will be future ready when their voices are heard and their leadership potential is nurtured. By uplifting the voices of young people, we will give young people ownership of problem solving and policy making at the tables addressing the very issues that they face.

We are all in this together. It will take every member of our community, working together, to ensure the success of young people through the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, and this list continues to grow with more and more partners signing up to be institutional agreement partners to the plan.

If your organization is ready to join in on the Future Ready movement, please contact admin@uppartnership.org to find out more information on how you can become a Future Ready partner or donate to the work here.

Follow our progress by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media @UPPartnershipSA.

How to prioritize your mental wellness during the pandemic​

How to prioritize your mental wellness during the pandemic

When COVID-19 first broke out, it seemed as though the entire world had turned upside down. Everything we did before the virus—daily activities we participate in, how we communicate and interact with one another, how we travel—would never be the same again. Feelings of uncertainty and fear resulted from altered daily routines, financial stresses, and social isolation. More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, many people continue to face challenges that are stressful and overwhelming. Although most people are back to school, work, and going out with friends again, many carry the impacts of the pandemic with them. Many still fear that their family members may be affected by the virus now that schools, workplaces, grocery stores and other large public gathering places have reopened. The anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness experienced during the pandemic is natural, but learning effective self care strategies and receiving proper care can help individuals cope.

First, be mindful of your physical health. Getting enough sleep, participating in regular physical activity, eating nutritious foods, avoiding harmful substances, and taking the time to relax can play a huge part in your mental wellbeing. For example, try finding an activity that includes movement, such as dance, or find techniques, such as yoga or reading, that help you relax. This will lower your body’s stress hormones and release endorphins which will reduce feelings of pain and ultimately improve your mood.

Try to reduce stress triggers. Maintain a regular schedule, limit social media which may expose you to inaccurate information about the pandemic, find reliable sources for pandemic news, spend time doing hobbies you enjoy, and choose to focus on the positive things in your life. Reliable sources to help keep up to date on COVID recommendations include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Hobbies you might like include reading books, writing in a journal, crafting, cooking, and many more.

Finally, strengthen relationships and build support. If you go to school or work remotely from home or need to isolate yourself due to COVID, try to find time for virtual socialization by texting or videochat. These are only a few ways to help reduce stress and relax. There are many ways to reduce anxiety and stress, try several methods and find what works for you.

TJ, Yi and Shradha

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you to The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Leaping Forward Together: Reflecting on Seven Years of Partnership

Leaping Forward Together: Reflecting on Seven Years of Partnership

My family and I made the leap to San Antonio seven years ago this July. We wanted to be closer to our parents and we wanted our parents to be involved in our children’s lives. We were also excited to escape Chicago winters, even knowing we were trading them for the unrelenting heat of Texas summers.

This was a leap that led to many others. 

I was fortunate to get a job supporting Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio. Two years into that work I took on the executive role with UP Partnership, known at the time as the  P16Plus Council. We then merged Excel Beyond the Bell and UP in service of making San Antonio the “top city in the country for youth to learn, grow, and thrive.” 

These roles connected me to collective impact – the art and science of working across institutions to solve big population level problems, such as educational equity. Collective impact quickly became my professional home. It gave me a way to combine my commitment to young people and my passion for urban planning, largely by building new structures for focused partnerships. 

I love how collective impact constantly draws us into the unknown, calling us forth into new possibilities. It helps us to see that there is an infinite pool of solutions waiting to take shape: Connections that need to be built. Agreements waiting to be formed. Collaborations ready to take root. And so many of these possibilities require enhanced versions of ourselves, new ways of showing up in the work.

Throughout these years, I’ve had the great fortune of working with more than two dozen staff and hundreds of passionate volunteers. Together, as one friend said, “we have thinned the walls that separate our institutions.” We have built a growing community movement by embracing emergence at each step of the way. 

While some benefits of this movement are intangible, many of the results are concrete. 

Through the leadership of Diplomás, we’ve built breakthrough training resources and large-scale convenings for educators. Through My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio, the Restorative Practices Collaborative has scaled restorative justice tools such as peace circles and corners, reducing several school districts’ reliance on punitive discipline. Through Excel Beyond the Bell, youth serving agencies have gained unprecedented access to program data and Excel Academy has helped dozens of agencies build higher quality relationships with those they serve, a key to strong program outcomes. 

Working alongside many other contributors, our collective has helped the larger San Antonio community to deepen its commitment to racial equity. We were among the first communities in the country to commit to an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, we have set a shared North Star of attaining 70% postsecondary enrollment for our high school graduates by 2030, a goal that will help to uproot longstanding racial, ethnic, economic, and geographic disparities.

Together we’ve helped bring tens of millions of new dollars to the table to support young people. This has happened through: multi-million dollar increases in how the city funds youth violence prevention, a dedicated $10 million youth recovery fund through ARPA, $4 million in new community grants we’ve facilitated through Blue Meridian Partners, and $14 million in gifts we’ve helped shape through the Corporate Partners for Racial Equity in partnership with the San Antonio Area Foundation and the United Way. 

Importantly, we haven’t settled for just using our own voices. We have prepared young people for future waves of advocacy. This was initially accomplished by revitalizing the San Antonio Youth Commission and more recently through youth-led research, policy training, grantmaking, and storytelling in conjunction with partners such as SAY Sí.

Collectively, we have treated the unknown as a stepping stone to discovering what’s possible. As a result, we have found new ways of leading together, built a movement that is now more unified than ever, and many of us have made close new friendships along the way. 

The next phase of our work will be anchored by the Future Ready Bexar County Plan, which supports our new bold North Star goal. This plan is backed by nearly seventy institutions, including local government departments, school districts, universities, non profits, and funders. These partners have all made explicit commitments to scaling Healing instead of punishment, Access instead of disconnection, and Voice instead of isolation, the must HAVEs for our young people to shine.  

Today, so many leaps later, I am proud to walk alongside so many of you brilliant community champions. Thank you all for your dedication to this work and for allowing UP Partnership and myself to support along the way. I am excited to continue leaping forward together and, in so doing, breaking down the walls that separate us.

In very serious cahoots,

Ryan Lugalia-Hollon

Eight ways to cope with grudges

Eight ways to cope with grudges

It is part of human nature to hold grudges. The reasons behind grudges can be because of misunderstandings and assumptions, unrealistic expectations, feeling left out, reaching a limit, or even envy. We hold grudges when we feel anger, bitterness, resentment, or other negative feelings after someone has done something to hurt us. However, grudges are often persistent and can end up hurting you as much as the person who caused it. This is because holding onto grudges can cause you to relive bad experiences or feel trapped in an unpleasant event, leading to more distress, frustration, and disappointment. Therefore, although these negative feelings towards others may be unavoidable, it is important to learn how to cope with them in a positive way and overcome them.

  • The first step to overcoming a grudge is acknowledging the problem. What caused your grudge? Allow yourself to see the real issue in order to solve it.
  • Communicate with the person about the issue. Grudges often result from a lack of confrontation, so when you are ready, clarify your feelings with the other person about the issue. Whether you resolve the issue or not, this can be beneficial as you may feel more relieved by releasing built up emotions.
    Try putting yourself in their shoes. You may better understand their point of view and where they were coming from or what may have caused them to act a certain way. This doesn’t justify their actions, but it may help you understand why something happened.
  • Don’t wait for the person you are upset with to apologize. The person who inspired your grudge might not care about the issue, may feel remorseful but unable to apologize, or may not understand that they even caused harm towards another person in the first place. By accepting the situation without an apology, you can begin healing on your own.
  • The more you dwell on the issue, the harder it will be to move past it. Therefore, try to change the topic if the issue is brought up and try to leave it in the past.
  • Try viewing your grudge as a learning experience. There are positives to every negative situation. You may benefit by choosing to walk away with a better understanding of yourself and the situation.
  • Let the issue go. A persisting grudge will negatively impact your mental health by draining your energy. Letting the grudge go will give you more room for peace and happiness.
  • Lastly, try to forgive. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, but it means you acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and we should learn from them. This may be difficult, but without forgiveness, it is even more difficult to truly let go of a grudge and be at peace.

Although it is difficult to forgive others when they hurt or offend us, holding a grudge can be more detrimental to your mental well-being. Allowing small things that upset us to consume energy can take us off the course toward our overarching goals. Overcoming grudges is a sign of maturity and resilience as you encounter different experiences in life. Communicating your negative feelings to the source can help prevent long-term grudges and develop your personal relationships to a healthier and more mutual understanding.

TJ, Pooja and Elisa 

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you to The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.

Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Breaking down intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health

Intergenerational and cultural stigmas on mental health create a large barrier to accessing behavioral healthcare among today’s youth. Intergenerational trauma is a term used to describe the impact of psychological distress through several generations. The intergenerational transmission of trauma is a possible result of stigma surrounding getting treatment for mental health concerns. This stigma stems from inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness such as stereotypes and prejudices that people with mental illness are dangerous, incompetent, or unpredictable. Additionally, those with mental illness face discrimination such as not getting hired or receiving worse health care. As a result, many people have negative attitudes and internalized shame about their own condition, and many others have a negative outlook on those with mental illness, decreasing the chances of receiving treatment. Consequently, around forty percent of people with mental illness do not receive treatment. This can lead to their kids inheriting a susceptibility to a mental illness as people who have a family member with a mental illness may be more likely to develop one themselves.

Moreover, stigma around mental illness is especially an issue in some ethnic communities. Underutilization of mental health care services is common among Asian Americans due to stigma that has resulted from cultural values of collectivity and filial piety as opposed to American values of independence. Other barriers include lack of adequate health insurance, limited linguistically accessible services, and distrust of the mental healthcare system. Stigma and discrimination often worsen symptoms and likeliness of receiving treatment and can lead to reduced hope, lower self-esteem, and difficulties with social relationships. In order to combat this issue, it is important that we take the time to educate ourselves about mental illness, educate others , challenge myths and stereotypes, give support to people, and find more ways to practice inclusion.

In some ways, our world has become more accepting of the diversity new generations largely embrace. On the other hand, an intersectional identity can often make seeking help within your community more difficult. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, “Culturally Competent Care” is vital in breaking down these barriers of inequity that have long restricted access to youth mental health resources. Long-standing racial discrimination, especially for Latinx, African-American, and Native American children in the healthcare system has made it difficult to break the stigma in the past. In fostering inclusive discussion, education, and helpful resources in communities of color in early stages of development, we can normalize and prioritize mental wellness for future generations. The cultural and generational stigmas around youth mental health and the disparity in our healthcare system have often made the conversation and seeking assistance difficult in communities of color.

Latinos account for over 67% of San Antonio’s population. Cultural stigmas are also prevalent in the Latino community, in part, because of the lack of general knowledge and resources to assist children in need of help. Some adults believe the new generation has not had to struggle as much as the previous ones, and in ways, this is true. However, generational trauma and new issues that have risen with our new society make life difficult for teens to handle, especially pertaining to mental wellness. Some of my peers who identify as Latin/x have shared experiences similar to those in the Black community. One said that because many adults in the Latinx community are not informed on mental wellness, some may jump to negative conclusions and label you when you do communicate your needs. Religious beliefs also play a big role in determining the views of adults.

In talking with HBCU alumna and newly graduated Physician Assistant Margaret Hazelton, who completed her primary care preceptorship rotation in adolescent medicine, older generations in the Black community often view mental illness as a weakness that can be “prayed away” and tend to look down upon younger generations who take medication or receive therapy. She says that in order to break this stigma, it would be helpful for people to tell their own stories to encourage the idea that “taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health”. Actions like introducing mental health support early on in life so that people would see it as they see regular doctor or dentist visits could also be beneficial. Finally, she firmly believes that “we need more uplifting and encouraging people in the Black community to talk about mental health and realize that taking care of it is more rewarding than you may think.”

Alyssa, TJ, Elisa 

Editor’s Note

The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. 

However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face around mental wellness. This is a series of blogs that we will share monthly that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions. Thank you The Center for Young Minds and The Ecumenical Center for partnering with us for this initiative.

These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.