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by Sylvia B. Bodell

Texas Health’s Well Together Initiative makes an impact through The Center’s PACT Program

Well Together, provides awareness of mental health, reduces negative perceptions and takes a holistic wellness approach to improve access to a full spectrum of care.

Robert* was sound asleep when a stray bullet pierced through his bedroom wall just inches from him in bed. The family had heard gunshots earlier in the evening, but never imagined they would be in the crossfire inside their West Dallas home.

Following what he called the longest night of his life, Robert,11, began suffering nightmares, social anxiety, and separation anxiety from his parents. After many restless nights, Robert and his parents were able to start counseling that included play therapy and begin the road to healing.

“Robert is in the process of overcoming his traumatic experience. He has PTSD, but is learning calming and coping skills for his anxiety. I've been able to work with his parents on identifying anxiety and teaching calming exercises. He's doing online school because he's afraid of getting COVID, so there's still a lot of work ahead. However, his symptoms have been reduced 60 percent from his first session,” said Mara Estrada Doster, LPC-Intern with The Center.

All of Robert’s counseling was provided cost-free thanks to an innovative grant from Texas Health Resources (Texas Health) that began August 2019. The Center was one of five organizations in Dallas and Rockwall counties awarded funding from a Texas Health initiative, the Texas Health Community Impact. This collaborative behavioral health initiative, Well Together, provides awareness of mental health, reduces negative perceptions and takes a holistic wellness approach to improve access to a full spectrum of care.

Together we can maximize our impact

“Access to mental health care is critical to the well-being, security and stability of our communities,” said Pat Driscoll, chair of the Texas Health Community Impact Dallas/Rockwall Leadership Council. “Through Well Together, we will expand our reach and provide innovative solutions in both mental and physical health. Effectiveness is limited when we work individually, but together we can maximize our impact.”

The initiative pinpoints specific ZIP codes with the greatest opportunities to effect change. It’s a data-driven, outcomes-focused approach that focuses on providing support for youth and adults in 75212, 75217 and 75032.

“Texas Health Community Impact is part of Texas Health’s commitment to live our nonprofit, faith-based health system’s mission: To improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” said Texas Health CEO Barclay Berdan. “It’s said that a person’s ZIP code has a greater impact on their health than their genetic code. That’s why we’re reaching out into the communities we serve and hoping to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people in these areas of North Texas.”

Unlike any program around

“The Center welcomed the opportunity to be a part of this Texas Health project because it affirms what we're already doing and has allowed us to expand our existing collaborative model (PACT) at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand in West Dallas and duplicate it within The Salvation Army’s Pleasant Grove Corps Community Center in Southeast Dallas and Lake Rockwall Estates Community Center in Rockwall," added Dr. Brad Schwall, president and CEO of The Center.

Unlike any mental health program around, The Center established the Partnerships for Accessible Counseling and Training program (PACT) in 2014. By collaborating and co-locating with established nonprofits, counseling is provided onsite in communities, in a safe and comfortable environment, where people already receive services such as food, clothing and after-school care. These comprehensive wrap-around services are a win-win.

"We're grateful for the support and collaboration of Texas Health and their team," continued Dr. Schwall. "Mental illness prevents families from finding financial stability and prevents children from reaching their potential in school. We're working to change that narrative together."

Well Together - Year One

In its first year of Well Together, The Center has provided more than 1,500 counseling sessions, participated in 30+ community events (training and workshops, food drives, back-to-school events) resulting in outreach to more than 2,000 individuals.

While COVID-19 has impacted outreach in 2020 and face-to-face interaction with other nonprofits, clients are still able to receive the life-saving counseling they need through tele-counseling. Click here for more information on The Center's PACT program and partnerships.

*Robert's name was changed.