Think Boys and Girls Clubs and images of after-school activities like crafts, foosball, and other games might come to mind.
The offerings of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada include all of that and something more — state-supported mental health outreach for young people.
The pandemic has increased mental health challenges for everyone, including children. The new Nevada Children's Mental Health report card from the Children’s Advocacy Alliance gives the state a D+ in mental health for children, down from a C two years ago.
The president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada said the poor grades are representative of a youth mental health crisis across the country.
“I don't think it's unique to this committee. I don't think it's unique to the state,” said Andy Bischel. “I think it's a national problem, that we need to face and start chipping away at it.”
Exacerbating the challenge in the Las Vegas area is the high number of one-parent households and the odd working hours in the hospitality industry, making it tough for families to find mental health help.
“They have so much already on their plate that that's a luxury. A lot of our families view therapy as a luxury,” said Alma Spears, a therapist and Boys and Girls Clubs official.
Parent Yvonne, who did not want her last name used, said involvement with the program helped her son.
“His grades were dropping in school; he was doing really bad,” she told State of Nevada. “But after therapy, they helped us a lot with communication between us, not only with him and the parent, but us as parents and as couples,
“He's able to come and talk to me without being without being scared of actually talking to me.”
More information on the Boys and Girls Clubs program can be found here.
Andy Bischel, president & CEO, Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada; Alma Spears, marriage and family therapist; Yvonne, affected parent