Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Local Nonprofit Spotlight, where we highlight and introduce a local nonprofit’s inception and mission. But first we’d like to extend heartfelt gratitude to our Local Nonprofit Spotlight Sponsor, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Thank you Lurie Children’s for connecting a voice from our local nonprofits to our local communities!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and thus, CNSMoms is continuing the conversation about mental health, #breakingthestigma. This week we are spotlighting CATCH: Community Action Together for Children’s Health through a conversation with the nonprofit’s Executive Director and founder, Amy Oberholtzer. The mission of this nonprofit is one that resonates with all families and we are so lucky to have this local resource “to empower families to foster resilience and prioritize mental health and emotional wellness in their children through educational programming, access to resources, and peer support.” Learn more about CATCH, who it serves (everyone), and how we can all get involved and help foster healthy minds. Welcome, Amy!
Hi Amy! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from and where do you live now? What do you love about where you live?
I’m Amy Oberholtzer. My husband and I live in Northbrook, but I am originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve lived here for 30 years and raised both of my children, ages 24 and 20, in Northbrook. It took me a while to get accustomed to suburban living, but I have found my tribe and have developed close friendships and very meaningful work here.
What nonprofit are you introducing to us today and what is your affiliation with this nonprofit? When was it founded?
I’m the founder and Executive Director of CATCH: Community Action Together for Children’s Health, founded in 2018. We are dedicated to building awareness of mental health, reducing the stigma of mental illness, educating the community, and sharing resources to help families raise children who prioritize emotional well-being and are equipped to handle all of life’s ups and downs.
What is the mission? What is the vision? Who does it serve?
CATCH’s mission is “to empower families to foster resilience and prioritize mental health and emotional wellness in their children through educational programming, access to resources, and peer support.” Our vision is a community of resilient people who value mental health and emotional wellness. CATCH serves families with children of all ages in Northbrook and surrounding suburbs.
How did you personally get involved in CATCH?
I founded CATCH as a result of my family’s journey with my daughter’s mental illness. We were thrust into a world of severe anxiety, depression and disordered eating without any ideas about how, where or with whom to navigate. My family was thrown into chaos and I didn’t know where to turn for support or guidance during our darkest days. I realized that my community needed CATCH so that there was a place for parents like me to find others walking in similar shoes. I knew that CATCH could not only be a soft place to land, but a place where
education, understanding and normalization around mental illness and emotional well-being could find a home in my community.
What services do you offer, and to whom (ie. parents, kids, teachers, school admin, etc.)? Please tell us everything!
CATCH provides a range of services to help parents and caregivers support children of all ages. We host a Speaker Series, which features mental health professionals sharing their expertise on a range of topics. Prior to the pandemic, our in-person events covered issues including; Managing Screen Time, Supporting our LGBTQ+ Youth, and Building Resilience. Like everyone else, we converted to virtual programming during the pandemic and hosted webinars on Coping with COVID-19, Zoom Fatigue, and most recently, Enough with the Consequences with Dr. Ross Greene, best-selling author and psychologist.
In addition, CATCH hosts Coffee Talks which bring people together monthly to share their personal experiences and find support. Parents Connect is a similar program designed to connect parents of children in a similar age range for a weekly session that is six weeks in duration. Each week, a different topic is the focus of discussion.
We also have a growing resource library online which includes a robust YouTube Channel with recordings of our events; Learn from Experts, a video series which feature local professionals answering questions on specific topics; and short clips on a range of mental health issues. Our website is a great place to find summaries of our events, along with our essay series, In Real Life, in which people share their true stories about living with mental illness and raising children with mental health issues. We are truly focused on normalizing the conversation around mental health and letting people know they are not alone in their journey.
Finally, we are developing partnerships with the local schools to assist them in supporting students and families. CATCH was one of seven mental health agencies to receive a pandemic response grant from the Village of Northbrook last year. We commissioned an original art design with the message “Northbrook Cares. Community Together” with our funds. It is still being displayed throughout our Village on banners and posters in order to promote a sense of connection and remind each other that we are not alone.
How do families who need mental health assistance find out more about this nonprofit?
There are a few ways! First, we invite everyone to visit our website and join our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletters which include information about upcoming events, the most recent resources on our website, and other programming and opportunities for support in the community.
Third, have a confidential email address where people can send requests for support and information.
Last but not least, we maintain a database of mental health professionals who specialize in various areas and have openings.
How can our readers help? Please tell us ways we can volunteer, donate, give in-kind goods, etc.
Join the conversation. Help spread the message that mental health matters. Write your own In Real Life essay. We invite volunteers to reach out and let us know their interests and we’ll help them find the right role whether it’s planning an event, seeking resources, or advising on the needs of the community. We also accept donations on our website: catchiscommunity.org/donate
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Do you have any special initiatives going on that you’d like everyone to know about?
Yes! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are sharing a lot of helpful content online including some new videos and a couple of In Real Life essays. The recording of our program with Dr. Ross Greene is available for viewing on our website until June 7th. We are very proud that on May 17th, every member of the graduating class at Glenbrook North received a Mental Health Coping Kit from CATCH as a graduation gift. We carefully developed the kits to include tools and resources on which we hope the graduates will be able to lean when times get tough.
Please tell us something special about CATCH that you’d like everyone to know.
CATCH’s Board of Directors consists of 6 committed, hard working, kind-hearted people who are dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and shining light on mental health. They are a gift to our community and I am beyond proud to work alongside them to support our area’s families. CATCH can help ease the fears and the loneliness that often come with navigating mental health challenges in one’s family. Everyone is welcome to join us and find resources, support, education and a great deal of compassion. CATCH-on! That’s it! Thanks!