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Daily Inspiration: Meet Patsy Dolan Bouressa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patsy Dolan Bouressa.

Hi Patsy Dolan, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I spent over 14 years in Human Resource Management before returning to school to get my Master’s in Social Work. After graduating with my Masters in 2006, I started my Social Work career as a therapist at a residential treatment facility for children dealing with mental health issues. I was the primary therapist on a unit of 10-13 year old boys where I worked with both the boys and their families.

After five years there, I left to work for Travis County where I created the only therapeutic re-entry program for adult male felons in the State of Texas. I worked for the County for five years and then went to work at a psychiatric hospital as their Director of Outpatient Services. In that role, I worked with a staff to create the partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program for the hospital. While at the hospital, I worked with a psychiatrist who was on the Board of the SIMS Foundation. When the Director of Clinical Services at SIMS informed the Board that he was retiring, the psychiatrist with whom I worked asked me to apply for that position which I happily did. I spent the first two years of my time at SIMS in that role and then was asked to step up as Interim Executive Director in May 2019, after the Executive Director resigned her position. In December 2019, the Board promoted me to the Executive Director role.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As the only non-profit in the nation that provides mental health and substance use recovery services and supports to musicians, music industry professionals and their dependent family members, there are always bumps in the road! All of us who work in behavioral healthcare know that working with people who are struggling emotionally automatically comes with a great many challenges. In addition to those common hurdles, SIMS has seen a large increase in the number of individuals assisted since late 2017. This increase was in part attributed to our shifting our mission from one that was more crisis-driven to one that is more wellness-driven. That message was clearly received as we started to see an increase in people reaching out early in their struggles and asking for help to keep them from hitting a crisis. In addition, SIMS began offering free trainings to our music community on behavioral healthcare issues as well as on the topic of sexual assault and harassment in the music industry. These trainings provided the opportunity for those in the music community to get to know SIMS and what they offer, making it easier to ask for help. This increase in the number of clients assisted put a huge financial burden on the organization at a time where there was little fundraising occurring.

After the departure of the prior Executive Director in 2019, there was a great deal of work that needed to be done to begin to diversify revenue streams and to work towards improving our fundraising efforts. While SIMS ended 2019 in a very solid financial position, the pandemic in 2020 brought a great many difficulties. The majority of the organization’s fundraising was linked to events and with the lockdown that the pandemic brought, SIMS was unable to have such events. At the same time, there were many funds that were created in Austin/Travis County that were for COVID relief. These funds were intended for “basic needs”. Sadly, none of these funds identified mental healthcare as a basic need, highlighting that the stigma associated with these issues continues to be a problem. Since these funds excluded mental health, SIMS was ineligible for those funds. While all of the financial hardships were happening, we were seeing a huge rise in the number of people in need while also finding that all of the providers in the SIMS Network were compiling lengthy waitlists. Despite all of this, SIMS has been able to meet the need of its clients at a time when the entire world is struggling emotionally.

Despite these obstacles, SIMS has begun to work on a national expansion. The organization receives calls from individuals in the music industry from all over the country seeking care. During the pandemic, SIMS has seen an increase in need both in the counties currently served and from other cities across the nation. It is clear that there is a very strong need for our services in all music cities. Therefore, the SIMS Board voted to explore expansion. The largest challenge faced with regards to expansion is having the funds to do so. As a result, SIMS has been working diligently on grant writing to raise these funds as well as making connections with corporations and other entities in the cities of interest.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker first and foremost. I’ve always been interested in working with people struggling with mental health and substance use issues. I’m known for being an extremely hard worker and am very detailed oriented as well as someone who works collaboratively with other non-profits to ensure that our music community has all their needs met. As the Executive Director of a non-profit, a large part of my role is in raising funds to sustain the organization. I am also currently focused on helping SIMS expand nationally. This endeavor includes networking with government officials, corporations, music industry professionals, and behavioral healthcare professionals in cities of interest to both raise awareness about SIMS and to help fundraise. What sets SIMS apart are several things:

– We are the only non-profit that serves musicians, music industry professionals and their dependent family members.

– We are the only non-profit that provides every level of behavioral healthcare that is in our healthcare system along with many other supports that are outside of the healthcare system such as providing Peer Recovery Coaching and Recovery Residences to our clients.

– We provide extensive case management for all of our clients. As of 8/31/2021, SIMS’ Clinical Staff had already provided 915 hours of case management, an 11% increase from 2020 at the same time.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
I have always been that person that everyone came to with their problems. So I guess you could say I was destined to do this work! As a child, I was someone who had many friends with 1 or 2 “best friends”. I was studious and always did well in school. I was in choir and took voice lessons for eight years. I was an avid reader, something that I still love to do. I also loved movies, especially going to see them with my brother who is five years older than me. As I got a little older, I found that I loved to run and continue to love that to this day.

Contact Info:

  • Email: info@simsfoundation.org
  • Website: simsfoundation.org
  • Instagram: @simsfoundation

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