DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Vera French Community Mental Health Center wants to focus more services for young people.
Experts at Vera French say that traditional ways of servicing the mental health of minors have not seen results. They point the recent car theft crimes as a call to action.
Mental Health services could be the intervention many are youths need before coming in contact with law enforcement.
Sherwin Robinson Sr. makes himself available to area youth whose mental needs are not met. He points out that different communities have conversations about mental health differently. In some cases, the conversation is missed altogether.
"When our youth, especially young boys get in trouble in our communities, we don't look at that as mental health issues," says Robinson Sr. "In the African American community, we don't talk about our problems too much. That's because we're not talking to therapists or psychologists that look like us and relate to our problems. That makes it a little difficult."
Robinson works with local high schools to tend to children in these communities. He believes students struggling with behavior need help to recognize they might need access to mental health services.
Richard Whitaker is the CEO for Vera French Community Mental Health Center. He agrees that not all communities seek mental health services equally. He believes that changing services can also facilitate access.
"We can't just keep providing services that we've always provided, or just provide more of the same services. That's not necessarily the answer," says Whitaker. The answer is in providing different services or providing those services differently so that more people have access to those services."
The Vera French community mental health center has been involved in conversations around juvenile crime in the QCA. According to Whitaker, addressing mental health issues among troubled minors can be the difference between a life in the correctional system and a more productive alternative.
These mental health services for young people are not inexpensive, but they are less expensive than the alternative.
"What were costs are now positives because now the school district has another student, law enforcement can focus their time on others, and that youth is now contributing. Maybe they have a job now. All those become positives were they were negatives."
this often means getting access to mental health services to communities that don't often seek the help.
Today local high school kids teens took matters into their own hands for mental health awareness. The drum line for Davenport West and North high schools performed outside Vera French center.
They were there to raise funds for the Vera French Center that will be put towards mental health services for young people.