Early intervention for children is the key, WTC stresses

Staff Writer

The anti-bullying bills before the 85th Legislative session and the controversial Netflix drama “13 Reasons Why” has kicked open the door on how to raise an emotionally healthy child.
Never before has children’s personal and emotional safety pushed itself to the forefront of public policy, mainstream and social media and educators’ immediate concerns, said West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith, LMSW.
“I’ve been a licensed master social worker and worked in community mental health nearly my entire professional life and never before have I seen children’s mental health shaken to the core as it has been as of late,” she said.

“It’s talked about on television, Facebook, Twitter, and in school administration board rooms. But still, when it comes to affecting someone’s own family, their own child, their own flesh and blood, it’s as if this invisible wall goes up and they don’t want to talk about it.
“It’s easy to point out a societal issue or point the finger at other children who may have problems but it’s so difficult to say, ‘It affects me. It affects my child,’” continued Smith. “Somehow we have to get past that and get the child and really, the entire family in for assistance.”
West Texas Centers provides mental health care to more than 2,000 children and their families each month in 23 rural West Texas counties through 15 mental health clinics. But clinicians only provide care to those who ask for help, Smith said.