Clarity Child Guidance Center Breaks Ground on Vital Renovations to Increase Capacity and Improve Care

San Antonio, Texas (September 26, 2023) –  Clarity Child Guidance Center broke ground during a special ceremony on Wednesday, September 20  on renovations being made possible through its “HEROES: The Campaign for Clarity.” Through the campaign, Clarity is ensuring that every child and family who needs behavioral health services can receive them.

At the ceremony on Clarity’s 8-acre campus in San Antonio, which was attended by nearly 100 guests, Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ board chair Lavonne Garrison announced that MHM is contributing to Clarity’s capital campaign with a gift of $1 million, furthering their mission of healing young minds and hearts. “Supporting adult and youth mental health has been a long-time priority for MHM and we have been proud to provide community grants to partners across South Texas, like Clarity, who are providing services to the families in their communities, as well as providing services to the patients we serve across our service area,” said Garrison.

Through the Heroes campaign, Clarity will:

  • Renovate Building 5 into an 8-bed Pediatric Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PPICU) that will provide trauma-informed mental health services to an additional 700 children each year.
  • Establish a flexible living unit in Building 3 for any age or gender.
  • Update the kitchen to create an environmentally friendly space to accommodate 125 kids and staff.
  • Finish out third floor of Outpatient Building to allow for 4,500 more outpatient appointments annually.
  • Expand the Crisis Services Department to assess an additional 60 kids in crisis per month.
  • Expand the Next Step Center to increase space and accessibility for families and children who need extended services.

Clarity is the only nonprofit in South Texas providing a continuum of mental health services to children ages 3-17 and their families to manage mental health conditions. With the region’s largest concentration of child and adolescent psychiatrists, it provides inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, emergency room crisis services, care coordination, education and more annually to over 8,000 children in need of care, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

“Clarity Child Guidance Center has seen a dramatic increase in the need for children’s mental health services post pandemic,” said Jessica Knudson, , LCSW, FACHE, CEO and President of Clarity Child Guidance Center.  “We are so appreciative to all of our supporters that have helped us kick off our campaign.  The $1 million gift from Methodist Healthcare Ministries was pivotal in moving forward with this much needed expansion.“

The U.S. Surgeon General’s recent advisory warned that mental health challenges are the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder. In Texas, more than 67% of children who need treatment never receive it—even though 25% have onset by age 7—due to three barriers: a lack of service providers where they live; stigma around mental health; and the ability to pay for services.

60 percent of the children served by Clarity are uninsured, underinsured, or low-income, making the organization even more a valuable resource for the community given the barriers that exist in accessing care.  The barriers to care compound a troubling trend among area youth. The San Antonio Teen Mental Health Survey conducted in the spring 2022, found that 37% of youth expressed an inability to perform day to day tasks and 49% stated feeling helpless, hopeless, numb, or like nothing matters.

Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai and San Antonio City Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) were on hand to speak to the importance of addressing children’s mental health for the betterment of our community.  Judge Sakai stated “I’m well aware of the escalating needs in the community and I think the community recognizes that COVID was a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, and it continues. It (the impact of COVID) has been devastating, which means we have to double down and add more resources for mental health to care for those especially those in need.”

Councilman Pelaez added, “I thank God every single day that there are people like the folks who work at Clarity who come to work to make the difference for these kids. I can tell you that there is no doubt in my mind that for the first time ever, you have a city council who, in unison, now speak the language of mental health, trauma-informed care, and making sure that we don’t just deliver streets & sidewalks & parks & drainage facilities and an airport, but also that we’re delivering an ecosystem where everybody has that right to live work and play. And that those who are most brittle and vulnerable can also reclaim that right to live work and play.”

Clarity supports all Bexar County children between the ages of 3 and 17 who are experiencing mental and behavioral disturbances, their families, and their communities. Last year, Clarity experienced a dramatic demand for services, including a 65% increase in inpatient admissions with no previous treatment history, a 27% increase in inpatient hospitalizations and a 159% increase in the use of  the Crisis Services Department.

Tony LoBasso, Chief Operating Officer of Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Board Chair for Clarity Child Guidance Center added, “Our kids are our future, and we have to make sure that they have access to care to put the stigma of behavioral health behind and make sure there is a caring environment that they feel they and their family can come to and be served.”

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About Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.

Methodist Healthcare Ministries broadens the definition of healthcare by providing low-cost clinical care for the uninsured and by supporting community-led efforts that improve living conditions that cause people to be sick in the first place. We use our earnings as co-owners of Methodist Healthcare to ensure that people who are economically disadvantaged and uninsured can live their healthiest lives. We do this by advocating for, investing in and providing access to quality clinical care and addressing factors that affect health—including economic mobility, supportive relationships, food security, broadband access, and safe neighborhoods. Ultimately, we fulfill our mission of “Serving Humanity to Honor God” by advancing health equity so that more resilient individuals & families living in the 74 counties we serve can thrive.

About Clarity Child Guidance Center:

Founded in 1886, Clarity Child Guidance Center is the only nonprofit in South Texas providing a continuum of mental health services for children ages 3-17 and their families to manage mental health conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder and/or schizophrenia. In keeping with its vision to ensure that every child and family that needs its services receives its services, Clarity maintains a stand-alone mental health hospital on an eight-acre kid-friendly, open campus, with 66-bed, four-unit inpatient hospital with a six-bed Crisis Services unit offering specialized treatment for children.  It serves more than 8,000 children annually in need of care, regardless of their family’s ability to pay; the majority of patients are disproportionately low-income.   It offers the region’s largest concentration of child and adolescent psychiatrists through onsite affiliations with Southwest Psychiatric Physicians and UT Health San Antonio; it is also a teaching hospital for the esteemed nursing schools of UT Health San Antonio and University of Incarnate Word.