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Program offers free COVID-19 crisis counseling for Somervell

Ashley Inge

Texans Recovering Together is a new, statewide program that provides free, confidential, non-clinical crisis counseling to anyone locally who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Gov. Greg Abbott declared a national disaster on March 25, funds were released for the program. Texans Recovering Together is a grant-funded program through FEMA and SAMHSA, and their sponsoring agency is Pecan Valley Centers.

Pecan Valley Centers cover the counties of Somervell, Erath, Hood, Parker, Palo Pinto and Johnson.

Texans Recovering Together not only provides crisis counseling, but also assists with resource referrals, grief/loss support, social skills training and disaster awareness and preparedness education.

“We are trained to do non-clinical crisis counseling for individuals affected by COVID-19, so that’s going to mitigate stress for individuals who are dealing with the wide array of things that COVID has put on our shoulders – to some people that’s anger, to some people that’s sadness, loss of routine and daily life, to some other individuals, people don’t even believe it’s real; it’s just a wide array of different feelings. Our job is to help them understand what they’re going through,” said Latisha Melton, crisis care support counselor.

Their staff is made up of 11 people and includes social workers, special education teachers and many other different types of individuals to help people around the area from all walks of life. The program has introduced individuals to food banks and homeless shelters. They’ve also been working closely with schools.

“We traveled to the school there in Glen Rose and had the safe meeting there with the counselors to talk about our program,” Melton said. “You could tell they really cared about their students and their staff there, and it was nice to see that, to know that they were accepting of our information and that they were going to use us if they needed to.”

It is the goal of the crisis counseling program to reach as many individuals affected by COVID-19 in each of the counties of all demographics.

“People don’t realize that it’s building and building until something big happens,” Melton said. “We’re trying to bring awareness, so that everyone knows we’re here, we’re free, we’re confidential and it’s state-funded so no one has to pay anything. They don’t have to qualify for anything. It’s solution-focused and crisis counseling, so it’s not meant to be long term. Our job is to work with them and get them the resources they need.”

Their main hub is located in Granbury, but Melton says members of her team travel to each of the six counties to assist when needed. They also can assist over the phone and virtually.

“There’s a stigma on reaching out for help when it comes to mental health so we try to reduce that stigma and help them understand that this is a crisis situation. We’re in a pandemic and its OK to reach out for help. It’s OK to call someone just to talk and it’s OK to call someone and say, ‘I can’t pay my bill,’” Melton said. “In Stephenville, they are seeing people that have never needed help, whereas some of the people who were already on food stamps are getting a little extra assistance, but people who have never had to utilize that are finding themselves without food, without being able to pay their bills and they have no idea how to navigate that system of help.”

Texans Recovering Together will continue to be funded until the anniversary date, which is March 2021.

Individuals can call the state number at 817-579-4483, where they will be transferred to their local Texans Recovering Together team and a counselor will assist them. They can also email TRT@pecanvalley.org for more information.