Guest article by Emily Burns
Twenty years ago, the SIMS Foundation opened its doors to a community in need. Born from tragedy, the foundation was created after the devastating suicide of Sims Ellison, the bassist for local band Pariah. Ellison battled severe depression for many years and was unable to receive the help he needed. It was this drastic event that inspired the creation of an organization that could provide affordable mental health options for uninsured musicians in Austin.
What Does SIMS Foundation Offer?
Among the many mental health conditions treated through SIMS, the majority of clients are dealing with depression, anxiety, stage fright or addiction. The organization offers unique treatments for all of these illnesses including band group therapy, individual therapy and assistance with placement in sober living facilities for addiction recovery. In exchange for life changing services, clients have had copays as low as $5.
The SIMS Foundation has helped over 600 musicians every year since its founding. 98% of clients report an improvement in symptoms after beginning services and are able to lead happier, healthier lives with bandmates and family members. Managing Director Heather Alden says one of her favorite parts of working with SIMS is being able to meet with the musicians and see their lives improve.
What You Can Do to Help
Alden says there are many things we, as members of the Austin community, can do to help the cause. The first step is to reduce the stigma that comes with asking for help, then provide a connection to a resource like SIMS. Musicians in need or those close to someone who in need are encouraged to call the SIMS hotline at (512) 494-1007 to speak with a staff member.
There are also many fundraising events hosted by SIMS year round that are open to the public. The organization is always looking for volunteers to help with events, as well.
What’s Next for SIMS?
In the future, SIMS hopes to expand services beyond musicians and help all Austinites in need of affordable mental health care.
The SIMS Foundation is made possible through their passionate staff and generous donors including Central Health, St. David’s Foundation, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, 93.3 KGSR and C3 Presents.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you been impacted by the work of the SIMS Foundation?
Emily Burns is a graduate of Texas State University with a dual BA in Electronic Media and Spanish and a psych minor. She’s passionate about travel, music, media, linguistics and new experiences! Her favorite way to spend her weekends is seeing live music and taking her dog Willow to parks around Austin.