Following the death of a Lake Travis ISD student, newly formed local nonprofit The Engage and Heal Foundation is working to challenge the conversation surrounding mental health, according to President Amelia Floyd.

Floyd said the Lake Travis region has witnessed immense change and growth over 20 years, including developments to roadways, schools, parks, homes and other infrastructure, and to add to all of that, the community is now tasked with building a system of support for those struggling with their mental health.

“With this growth, our youth have been particularly impacted,” Floyd said, adding that pressure to succeed within LTISD's highly competitive academic and athletic environments has placed extra stress on students.

Along with a board of community members, Floyd created the Engage and Heal Foundation in 2019. It was founded in honor of Erik Hanson, a 2017 Lake Travis High School graduate who died in 2018. Engage-Heal is used as the slogan for the Erik Kyle Hanson Scholarship, which has so far awarded $10,000 to three LTISD students.

The foundation was established in an effort to initiate conversations on mental health and erase any perceived stigmas surrounding seeking help. Floyd referred to this mission as “shattering the silence.”

“Over time I’ve come to find out that everyone is connected to this in some way, shape or form,” Floyd said. “We all have mental health issues---everyone.”

The foundation kicked off its first annual Bubbles and Bags Luncheon on Feb. 27, which hosted more than 150 people and raised money for student scholarships.

The newly created foundation is awaiting an official nonprofit designation, and Floyd said its board members hope to establish community gatherings and recently launched an online platform.

The Engage and Heal website seeks to connect community members with critical education and mental health resources through its partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Floyd said she knows the foundation will have served its purpose when the conversation on mental health and depression becomes as casual as small talk over coffee.

“Someone asked me, ‘How will you know if you’re doing something?’” Floyd said and added: “If one person asks for help.”