Stock photo of children huddled together

Mental health initiative helps children learn the power of resilience

When mental or emotional trauma strikes—or the weight of life’s adversities simply becomes too much—resilience can motivate a person to press through difficulties and keep moving forward. Like any skill, however, resilience must be taught.

Thanks to the generosity of The George Foundation and The HendersonWessendorff Foundation, children in Fort Bend County will learn how to build resilience through the UTHealth Houston Nurturing Resilience Initiative.

“We aim to invest in local nonprofit organizations that weave a more powerful tapestry of opportunity within our community, especially to support our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Roger Adamson, CEO of The George Foundation.

Led by Funlola Are, PhD, assistant professor in the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the initiative includes four unique programs that work with local organizations in Fort Bend County to help children learn socioemotional skills and how to manage their mental health.

“We partner with different community organizations who have different needs,” Are said. “Through the Nurturing Resilience Initiative, we can tailor our programming for the specific children and families our partners serve.”

The initiative’s programs focus on improving mental health for children of all ages. Philanthropic support from The George Foundation and The Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation provides virtual and in-person group meetings to strengthen attachments between children and their caregivers. In collaboration with BakerRipley, these efforts help caregivers foster safe, secure, and healthy attachment relationships with their young children.

Are and her team are further enhancing afterschool and summer programs that serve older children and teens at the Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA locations in Fort Bend County, helping children feel prepared to deal with emotions and stress throughout life.

“We looked at the long-term mental health needs of families in the area,” Are said. “To ensure they can continue accessing care for years to come, we are also implementing training programs for students and local therapists.”

The Nurturing Resilience Initiative includes a new clinical rotation for UTHealth Houston fellows in child and adolescent psychiatry to engage with children through Child Advocates of Fort Bend, a community partner serving survivors of abuse. Are and her team are further working to provide specialized trauma therapy training to local practitioners so that current experts can meet the growing mental health needs of their communities.

“Support from The George Foundation and The Henderson-Wessendorff Foundation gives us the ability to go out in the community, and that is so important for this kind of work,” Are said.

Thanks to the foundations’ generosity, Are and her team are weaving together local people, community partners, and experts in health and education to help build brighter futures in Fort Bend County.