The pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone's mental health.
While it might feel like it's over in many ways, the trauma continues for a unique group of people. For veterans, first responders and medical frontline workers, it has only worsened mental health struggles they've been grappling with long before COVID-19.
Starting Tuesday in North Texas, a local nonprofit is expanding its reach to help them.
The One Tribe Foundation will officially launch a new 5,000 square-foot facility to provide mental health services for this veterans, first responders and medical frontline workers at its location in Farmers Branch.
The heart behind this project is nonprofit 22Kill, which is now expanding its services and relaunching under a new name, One Tribe Foundation.
You might remember 22Kill from the "22 push-up challenge" that went viral and has become a yearly tradition in North Texas and beyond to raise awareness for veteran and first responder mental health.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The "22" refers to the number of military veterans who die by suicide each day.
Since 2013, the organization has provided no-cost or low-cost therapy and other services to first responders, veterans and health care workers.
Their mission has grown so much, they were able to put donations gathered over the years into this new building to reach even more people struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal thoughts.
The timing couldn't be better. According to the foundation, their clientele intake went up by 160% in 2020. The 2021 figures are projected to push 220%.
“Those numbers alone tell you that this pandemic has drastically affected people mentally and emotionally," said Jacob Schick, CEO of One Tribe Foundation. “It has shown us that there are a lot of people that are having to wrestle with some demons that they didn’t realize they otherwise had. And that’s OK.”
Schick said despite the name change, the 22 push-up challenge will still continue and the 22Kill name will turn into the education sector of their foundation.
"Being a severely wounded Marine veteran myself from the Iraq War, I know the troubles these veterans go through when they come home when try to transition into the civilian sector," he shared. “One Tribe Foundation is put very simply, it just means the human tribe. These are people issues. It doesn’t matter regardless of race, color, creed, religion, socio-economic status -- the one thing we all have in common is trauma and tragedy."
The facility expansion is only the beginning of their work to come. One Tribe Foundation's goal is to expand its services across the Southwest in 2022.
“If there is [someone who] has been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress, I’m here to tell you as someone who’s been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress and a brain injury -- there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re reacting completely normal to an otherwise abnormal situation. You’re not alone," said Schick. "It’s OK to not be OK."
One Tribe Foundation is located at 13621 Neutron Road in Farmers Branch. For more information, email AshleyKamrath@22Kill.com.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also send a text message to 838255.