Need within the community:

In the wake of increased sensational episodes of violence in the United States, it is evident that more emphasis needs to be put on mental health services for youth and their families. As previously stated, only Mississippi ranks below Texas in providing such services (Poland, 1999). Violence has become a part of everyday life due to point-and-shoot video games, television programs, news, and movies. It is even commonplace in many homes and neighborhoods.

In Lubbock alone, 1,824 youth, ages 10 - 17, were arrested and charged for crimes committed including murder in 1999. This also includes 93 burglary charges, 333 theft charges, 209 simple assaults, and 388 runaways (Lubbock Police Department's UCR Report, 2000). In 1999, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services reported 3,097 investigated cases of child abuse and neglect in Lubbock County, with 630 of these cases confirmed (Texas Department of Protective & Regulatory Services annual report, 1999).

Studies show that, without intervention, fifty percent (50%) of these juveniles will continue to have arrests for violation of laws pertaining to drug use and delinquent activities such as possession of controlled substances and theft. Fifty percent (50%) will be incarcerated at least once in a five-year period of time. Eighty percent (80%) will continue to choose negative role models in society and place themselves at continued risk for becoming career criminals or chronic users of drugs and alcohol (Mann, 2000). The youth and families of Lubbock are in crisis. Their crisis is affecting our community!

Lubbock and surrounding areas have seen a decrease in available services to adolescents. Charter Plains Behavioral Health Services Hospital of Lubbock completely closed all admissions on January 27, 2000. Covenant Hospital of Plainview stopped admission of adolescents in September 1999, and several counseling centers in Lubbock closed their doors as well. In addition, the Lubbock Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center (MHMR) received a $299,480 cut in funding for 2000. This includes a 24% reduction in the center's prevention programs and a 14% reduction for treatment availability (Swoboda, 2000). These closings and reductions grossly limit availability of services for adolescents and their families. Therefore, Refuge Services can have a substantial impact on the youth and families of our area as an intensive outpatient option.

Refuge Services partners with and provides services to courts, schools, and social service agencies in the South Plains area. We contract with professional counselors in the region allowing them to work with the Refuge team and their client providing hands-on, action-oriented treatment for mental health issues. The program serves as a tool for assessing and gathering additional information about client's patterns of interaction and/or teaches coping strategies and solutions. Target issues include but are not limited to: attention deficit disorder, addictions, eating disorders, abuse issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and relationship and behavioral problems.

Refuge Services is an intensive, short-term therapeutic intervention for youth and families experiencing distress. Observable outcomes are seen in the first session. The participant is able to make immediate changes. This builds up confidence, which improves long-term impact of the treatment on the overall behavior, emotion, or relationship. This program also increases a participant's openness to therapy in the future.