Mother tells how mental health services saved her daughter’s life

Mother tells how mental health services saved her daughter's life

CLEVELAND — The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed mental health to the forefront of conversations.

Last week, federal data revealed that anxiety and depression were on the rise among children before the pandemic began. Mental health issues are not exclusive to children, as rates have skyrocketed for adults as well.

Fortunately, help is on the way in the form of grants to fund additional mental health programs in Ohio.

OhioGuidestone, the state’s leading behavioral and mental health agency, is getting $970,000 to streamline services, especially for children.

The extra help makes a huge difference for people like Maria Brenders and her three children. Brenders worked tirelessly to keep her bakery, the Three Girls Cupcake Shoppe in Berea, operational while supporting her children.

“One of the best ways to heal yourself is to take your pain and turn it into passion,” Brenders said.

News 5 Cleveland.

Maria Brenders.

Despite the lifting of pandemic restrictions and the return to normal life, she still worries about the mental health of her children after the unexpected death of Brender’s husband.

Years later, Brenders started dating again when her boyfriend also passed away.

Both men died by suicide.

“A lot of times you have guilt and I’ve learned that there’s no one and no reason someone kills themselves other than sanity,” Brenders said, “my husband’s dad also committed suicide. I knew it was going to be a hereditary problem.

The money awarded to OhioGuidestone will help launch a new program called OhioRise. Under the new program, OhioGuidestone will be the single point of contact for the 2,400 children in the program.

“We really want these kids to do better at home, in school, in their communities, and really throughout their lives,” said Mary Stiles, executive director of OhioGuidestone.

Stiles said the pandemic had a huge impact on his organization, noting a significant increase in mental health and addiction issues across the board.

OhioRise will streamline services for children and young adults 21 and under with complex behavioral health issues. The program will allow them to stay in their home or in a foster home, as opposed to a facility which may be out of state.

“Some kids have really big challenges and needs, and they’re involved in so many different programs and systems that it becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for families to navigate,” Stiles said.

Brenders hopes programs focused on mental health will continue to be a top priority in Ohio. She believes OhioGuidestone’s guidance has changed her and her family’s life, and they’ve created a special treat for the organization’s anniversary this year.

“We have a special cupcake for them and every purchase of the cupcake goes directly to OhioGuidestone,” she said.

In addition to helping 2,400 new customers, the program will also create 150 jobs. It should be operational by July 1.

If you’re having trouble right now, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.

You can call around the clock where advisors can connect you to services through OhioGuidestone.

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