KeepHealthCare.ORG – Victoria County gets $410K grant for mental health program | News
A $410,000 grant awarded to the Victoria County Public Health Department will help low-income communities to access mental health care, officials announced Wednesday.
The grant comes from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, which awarded millions of dollars to six groups to improve mental health and well-being in rural communities in Texas.
The grant, which will be distributed over three years, will fund a program coordinator and two community health workers in Victoria County.
The project will focus on how conditions in the county could contribute to poor physical or mental health. The workers hired through the grant will identify residents who might be living with a mental illness or suffering from other mental health issues and help connect those residents with support services, county officials said in a news release.
In particular, the project will work to increase access to mental health services for those groups who have historically lacked access to such care. Derrick Neal, director of the county’s public health department, said the project would focus on low-income communities, including low-income black and Hispanic communities.
“We’re really talking about those who are left out of a lot of services and they fall through the gaps,” Neal said.
Neal credited County Judge Ben Zeller with seeking out the funding for the project.
“Addressing mental health issues and providing mental health care in our community is a big deal,” Zeller said. “It’s a need, and that’s been a priority for me to address.”
Neal said hiring for the program would begin soon and that the health department would seek community health workers from the same marginalized communities the department is looking to work with to increase trust.
“We’ve had a significant challenge in getting people in those communities to engage with us,” he said.
Neal said the early months of the program would focus on building partnerships within the county.
Zeller stressed that county officials would continue to pursue additional funding opportunities for mental health care in the future.
“By no means is this the end of our effort to find funding for mental health,” he said.
The Hogg Founation, which is affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin, vetted more than 60 communities vying for this funding. The foundation is working to shift its focus from individual mental illness to the root causes and systemic challenges of a community’s mental health, according to a news release.
Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at [email protected] or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.