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by Sylvia B. Bodell
| PACT, College, Young Adults, Counseling, Anxiety

Texas Health and The Salvation Army partner with The Center impacting mental health for young adults

Young adults college

Pleasant Grove resident Susan* was determined to break the cycle of poverty. In her early 20s, she was well on her way in graduate school. But because of COVID-19, she fell behind in her work-study program and began a downward spiral of depression. She was connected to care through The Salvation Army Pleasant Grove, one of The Center's PACT partners with Texas Health Well Together.

In 2019, Texas Health sought out The Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology to provide mental health services for Well Together, a Texas Health Community Impact behavioral health initiative. Designed to mitigate depression in individuals through a continuum-of-care in targeted Dallas/Rockwall underserved communities, the initiative maximizes the impact of programs. It addresses behavioral health by using education to reduce stigma, developing a referral pathway to supportive services, and removing barriers to access to counseling and therapy.

Texas Health teamed up with The Center after seeing the success of its PACT program. PACT (Partnerships for Accessible Counseling and Training) is an innovative program created by The Center in 2014 that collaborates with trusted nonprofits whose clients would not have access to mental health care services. The Well Together nonprofits added to the PACT program include: The Salvation Army Pleasant Grove, Interfaith Family Services, LakePointe Church Rockwall/Grace Clinic, Mission Oak Cliff, and Cornerstone Crossroads Academy. Brother Bill's Helping Hand was an early PACT partner with The Center and is also part of Well Together.

Stopping generational trauma and poverty

“Not only did Susan have a history of generational trauma and poverty, but her own history of abuse and trauma,” said Alexys Hatfield, MA, LPC-Associate with The Center's PACT program. “COVID-19 triggered a lot of past maladaptive coping skills and caused her to feel overwhelmed. The pandemic itself was an additional trauma. She didn’t have family or social support, which during a time of isolation, felt more isolating.

“Her symptoms included dissociation, anxiety, and passive suicidal ideation which increased during the peak months of the pandemic. Using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and mindfulness, she began to recognize her triggers and developed coping skills. I began seeing her in July 2020. Her progress is seen through the decrease in PHQ9 (score of 20 to now 12). I’m really proud of Susan and her resilience.”

Susan returned to school and her job as a teaching assistant. She’s more comfortable advocating for herself when feeling overwhelmed. She was also referred to Well Together partner Brother Bill’s Helping Hand for medication management to help with her ADHD. During a time of lost stability and isolation, Well Together allowed Susan to receive quality mental health services which guided her through this unprecedented time. Her future is bright.

“Having access to mental health care through The Center and Texas Health’s Well Together is crucial to helping us combat poverty, addiction, and homelessness. It’s an important safety net that wasn’t there before that will help our neighbors in Pleasant Grove achieve and maintain sufficiency,” said Jay Dunn, Managing Director of The Salvation Army of North Texas.

“Mental illness prevents families from finding financial stability and prevents children from reaching their potential in school. These uncertain times have highlighted the disparity and challenges in accessing care. Working together we are maximizing our impact. We're pleased to be collaborating with The Center and Well Together to change that narrative together and are already hearing success stories," added Dunn.

Michael's story: finding safer outlets and healing

For the first time in his life, Michael*, in his early 20s, found himself alone. His best friend, his twin brother, had joined the military and his older sister also left home. He was in community college and was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. After failing a drug test, he was dismissed from college (due to a program that prohibited drug use). Michael was referred to The Center by The Salvation Army Pleasant Grove.

“When I began seeing Michael he was feeling hopeless, without any purpose,” shared Alexys. “He had let go of things he once enjoyed and had stopped communication with his twin brother, his support system. He lost his security, pleasure and motivation.

“Michael expressed he used drugs to cope with anxiety and depression and was distressed by his inability to cope with past traumatic memories. His father had physically abused his mother and Michael harbored a lot of anger towards his father. He coped by shutting down and became critical of himself, overthinking every decision.

“We got medication for his anxiety and depression and he learned alternative ways of coping through cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness exercises. We found safer outlets such as drawing that we implemented into his sessions. Art gave him an outlet to express/process his emotions. He also found a new passion for exercise.

“Most importantly, Michael was given a safe space to process his unresolved feelings and was able to work towards healing past wounds from generational trauma. We covered topics about forgiveness, boundaries – and how to hold space for that reality. His relationship with his family is much better, including his father.

“I started seeing Michael during the pandemic. He has been drug-free a year, passed the drug test and re-admitted back into college. He completed all of his counseling goals, too. He has done the hard work of healing and growing. I’m glad we could be here for Michael during one of the most uncertain times.”

*client names were changed

PACT - making a generational impact across North Texas

PACT is the only program of its kind in North Texas. 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. The Center complements the work of these nonprofits by addressing an unmet need. These comprehensive wrap-around services are a win-win for families and individuals. With counselors at multiple nonprofit locations, barriers such as geography, transportation and financial constraints are removed.

It is only through the generosity of foundations and private donors that we are able to provide these life-changing and life-saving services to those who would not otherwise have access to them. Learn more - click here.

To schedule an appointment with any of The Center's non-PACT therapists call 214-526-4525 or go to TEAM to learn more.

Want to know more about PACT?

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