Bridges to Care San Antonio (BTCSA) is creating more welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged communities so people learn to identify mental health issues and find a therapeutic community that can help prevent a mental health crisis and can build their resilience. BTCSA collaborates with faith and community-based organizations to train community members on becoming Wellness Champions who can identify mental health conditions before they become chronic. In turn, faith communities are invited to become part of a Cohort with other faith communities within the same geographic proximity. BTCSA Cohorts each have a Cohort Leader drawn from the faith community leadership who come together to share ideas to support congregations, discuss course offerings, and generate new ideas for the community.


BUILD and its communities apply bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven (BUILD) approaches to improve health in communities that are adversely affected by upstream factors.


BTCSA offers a fundamental shift of the mental health discussion by using culturally appropriate language in African American & Hispanic/Latino communities. BTCSA supports the Wellness Champions who are faith leaders within the congregation. Cohorts are devised of 5-10 congregations within geographic proximity therefor creating a community of wellness. Wellness Champions guide family and friends to services and walk alongside them.


People often wait 10-11 years after the start of a mental health disorder before seeking help due to stigma, lack of mental health education, and lack of access to mental health resources. The longer someone waits to receive help, the more challenging it becomes to have good outcomes. BTCSA educates individuals about signs and symptoms of mental health issues and promotes mental wellness with the goal of directing people to receive support years earlier than previously expected.


Mental health is not separate from physical health but is linked to the whole person. BTCSA is improving integrated care by acknowledging its importance and seeing the whole person and matching needs to resources using SACRD.org. BTCSA core trainings teach the importance of overall health and lifestyle that impact mental health. In collaboration with University Health and SAMHD, we provide information and better access to physical health care and social determinant services needed for whole health.


BTCSA works at the individual level of engagement through the Wellness Champions, who are also supported by community organizations. Each Cohort is built upon faith communities and community-based organizations in proximity to Wellness Champions. People within the community are part of a group of Wellness Champions who learn together and support one another. The clustering of congregations into Cohorts ensures the education and support stays at the local level and as close to people needing services as possible.


Data for BTCSA includes measured pre- and post-engagement attitudes, mental health knowledge, changes in behavior, and ability to influence others. The data determines the effectiveness of using Wellness Champions to improve early access care. The data also improves educational offerings, class instruction techniques, and enhance Cohort interaction. We will capture how training improved outcomes for families/friends, and whether or not people were able to access care and resources.