Youth Affected by Mental Health Challenges

It’s normal for children and youth to experience various types of emotional distress as they develop and mature. For example, children commonly experience anxiety about school, as well as short periods of depression that are transient in nature. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. While most youth are healthy, physically and emotionally, one in every four to five youth meets criteria for a lifetime mental disorder, and as a result may face discrimination and negative attitudes.1

As with physical health, mental health is not merely the absence of disease or a mental health disorder. It includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, social well-being,2 and involves being able to:

  • Navigate successfully the complexities of life
  • Develop fulfilling relationships
  • Adapt to change
  • Utilize appropriate coping mechanisms to achieve well-being without discrimination
  • Realize their potential
  • Have their needs met
  • Develop skills that help them navigate the different environments they inhabit.3

Various combinations of protective and risk factors contribute to the mental health of youth, and efforts can be undertaken to promote positive mental health and prevent or minimize mental health problems. Youth with mental health disorders may face challenges in their homes, school, community, and interpersonal relationships. Despite these challenges, for most youth, mental health distress is episodic, not permanent, and most can successfully navigate the challenges that come from experiencing a mental health disorder with treatment, peer and professional supports and services, and a strong family and social support network.

  1. Merikangas, He, Burstein, et al., 2010
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2011; CDC, Health-Related Quality of Life, 2011
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2004


Our hard-working Site Coordinators rely on community volunteers to help students succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. This month, we are spotlighting Venessa and Jefferey Lewis. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis first got involved with CISDR a few years ago, when their kids were attending Frankford Middle School in Plano. After reading about us in the school newsletter, they volunteered for one-on-one mentoring, helping to lend an ear to our middle schoolers even after their own kids moved on to high school.

Mrs. Lewis says that the most important aspect of mentoring is listening. She says that, if you listen, the students will tell you what obstacles they’re facing. Being an open listener can help these kids see their outcomes differently, from a more positive, less defensive position. Connecting with their families can also make a big difference, especially for students without a father figure. Meanwhile, Mr. Lewis says that the most rewarding aspect of being a CISDR mentor is seeing the positive impact on a mentee’s life. The greatest feeling in the world is a sincere thanks from a child who you have watched grow up into a successful young adult.

We are always looking for more volunteers like Mr. and Mrs. Lewis. We have openings at elementary, middle and high schools across the Dallas region. To learn more about how you or your organization can get involved, please email

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a series of bills into law in June 2019 that would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children. This legislation creates a Texas Mental Health Consortium to bring together psychiatric professionals from Texas medical schools and other health care providers to connect children to mental health services. The legislation also increases mental health training for educators and other school professionals and improves students’ access to mental and behavioral health services.

CISDR has been on the forefront of providing mental health training to educators, parents, and other members of the community. We have been busy this summer training hundreds of school faculty and staff in Mental Health First Aid, to help them recognize the signs of students at risk of harming themselves or others. Our next community session is on Tuesday, July 23, with additional sessions on Friday, August 23 and Friday, September 13. Help us make a difference in the lives of high-risk children, and register today at Together we can learn to “see something, say something” and keep the community safe for our children.


With the 2019 CISDR Golf Tournament less than three months away, we have lined up several additional sponsors for this year’s event. Thank you to Platinum Sponsor PwC, Gold Sponsor Deloitte, and Silver Sponsor Sedgwick. Several level sponsorships as well as promotional sponsorships are still available. Please call James Fisher, Chief Development Officer at 214-827-0855 ext. 267 or go to for more details on the sponsorships available.

Come join these sponsors, along with Title Sponsor Flowserve and Presenting Sponsor Ryan at Hackberry Creek Country Club on Monday, September 30. Click the button below to register today, or email for more information.

CISDR joined the Dallas Chapter of the Women of AT&T (WOA Dallas), on Thursday, May 23 to honor outstanding high school graduates. Since 2013, WOA Dallas has partnered with CISDR to award college scholarships to graduating high school seniors to assist in attending an accredited post-secondary institution or technical vocational/trade school. Scholarship awards are based on academics and extracurricular activities, as well as a written essay and 20-second video from each candidate.

This year, a total of $16,000 was awarded to ten deserving students from three local high schools. Eight of these students will receive $1,500, and two will receive $2,000. We would like to give our sincere appreciation to all of the Women of AT&T members who volunteered their time and money to help these students start their college careers off on the right foot, as well as a hearty congratulations to the Class of 2019!

2019 Women of AT&T Scholarship Winners

Lake Highlands High School (Richardson ISD)
  • Barbara Raygoza: $1,500 for Texas State University
  • Jayland Scott: $1,500 for Trinity Valley Community College
McKinney North High School (McKinney ISD)
  • Oluwafemisola Otubu: $1,500 for the University of Texas at Arlington
Thomas Jefferson High School (Dallas ISD)
  • Ebelin Aguilar: $1,500 for Texas A&M University
  • Milton Garcia Hernandez: $2,000 for the University of North Texas
  • Sofia Miranda Rojas: $1,500 for Texas A&M University at Commerce
  • Priscilla Mejia: $2,000 for Texas Women’s University
  • Melody Riveria: $1,500 for Texas State University
  • Joel Silva: $1,500 for the University of North Texas
  • Mauricio Vazquez: $1,500 for Chapman University

Photo Gallery

Amazon Prime Day offers Black Friday prices in the middle of summer. This year, Amazon has made it a two day event spanning July 15-16, with additional deals throughout the month of July. As you’re shopping, keep CISDR in mind by using Amazon Smile. Use the link below to designate CISDR as your charity of choice. Amazon will then donate 0.5% of your purchases to us. This program costs nothing extra to you, and every bit that Amazon donates helps to support our mission!

CISDR Leadership Council, a young professionals group dedicated to supporting CISDR’s critical work in the community, is hosting the SummerSmiles Happy Hour on Monday, July 8 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Join us at Wild Salsa (1800 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201) to donate school supplies, enjoy summery drinks and meet some of our amazing Site Coordinators. Use our Amazon Smile link for your purchases, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the eligible purchase price to CISDR!

By joining Leadership Council, you can participate in important community service while gaining a sense of philanthropy, developing leadership skills, and gaining high quality volunteer experience. Together we can keep the smiles going, even after summer is over.

Capital One logoEach June, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) sends elementary students to the Capital One corporate campus in Plano for the Capital One MathCorps Initiative. In this two week initiative lead by Capital One employees, students learn individual decision making skills, how to work with others, critical thinking skills, problem solving, and of course, math skills. Each day students start with an assessment, followed by interactive lessons, hands-on activities, and educational games. At the end of the day, they retake the morning test to see what they learned.

This partnership between Capital One and CISDR allows students to interact with the Capital One employees who lead each of the sessions throughout the initiative. The students attending MathCorps gain a unique perspective and learn to use math skills as well as life skills in real world, real work situations. Special thanks to Capital One and the incredible Capital One employees who provide this dynamic learning initiative for these students. Because of this program these students will be better prepared to use mathematics and decision making skills in both school and in life.

2019 Capital One MathCorps Photos

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? 37% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of school, which is the highest dropout rate of any disability group, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In the last two years, we have seen a 20% jump in the number of students having mental health issues. With kids as young as 8 in crisis, we are training teachers, parents and other caring adults like you in Mental Health First Aid. Learn to recognize the signs of distress, so you can put the phrase “see something, say something” into action. Join us for an upcoming session, to make sure that red flags will be noticed, students will receive greater care, and schools will be safer.

Starting today and running through June 9th, keep an eye out for our 30 second Public Service Announcement on NBC 5. The spots will air from 4:00 pm through 7:00 pm. Let us know what you think!