WTOS Celebrates passing of Mental Health Voucher Program by Lubbock City Council
Lubbock, TX- September 9, 2020 - On Tuesday, September 8, the Lubbock City Council passed the Mental Health Voucher Program (MHVP) with a unanimous vote. Funded by Coronavirus Relief Funds, the MHVP will be administered by Catholic Charities and will allow families, adults, or children 6 free counseling sessions with a private practice mental health provider.
At the beginning of the pandemic, leaders from West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS) and Llano Estacado Alliance for Democracy (LEAD) began holding Zoom Hall conversations every other week. Participants would split up into small group conversations and discuss the question, “How has COVID19 impacted your family?” “The number one concern we kept hearing in these Zoom Hall conversations was a concern for mental health,” said Grace Reed a WTOS leader with St. John’s United Methodist Church.
“I was seeing the same thing in my practice – increases in anxiety and depression, greater need for medication, and overall uncertainty from the pandemic,” said Dr. Cheryl Hall with South Plains Association of Psychologists and WTOS.
WTOS convened a group of Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists with institutional leaders to create the MHVP. “We had a diverse group of talented people all at the negotiating table and we began meeting with City Officials to teach them about the program,” said Jenna Chang, LMFT-A and leader with the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock and WTOS.
“Catholic Charities has been on the front lines of pandemic response, and we knew we wanted to serve the underinsured and those without health insurance through the MHVP,” said Cynthia Quintanilla, Executive Director of Catholic Charities and leader with WTOS.
“Families are struggling with mental health and other economic and cultural pressures” said Jim Hare, LCWS and leader with WTOS and the National Association of Social Workers, “This is just the beginning of our organizing.”
“I want to recognize the good work of the leaders of WTOS and Catholic Charities and to acknowledge Mayor Pope, the City Council, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson, and City Staff for their diligence in working with the leaders from WTOS to make this opportunity available to families in need,” said WTOS leader Rev. Davis Price, Honorably Retired Minister of the Word and Sacrament, Palo Duro Presbytery.
The Mental Health Voucher Program will launch on Monday, September 14. For those interested in accessing the services, contact Catholic Charities at 806-765-8475 or cclubbock.org.