A local mental health advocate is looking to expand services across Texoma through a new recovery college. Arthur Horn, representing Making Dreams Real, recently announced plans to create a new program aimed at assisting people suffering from mental health issues.

“There may be a recovery college in America, but I am not aware of it,” Horn said.

Horn, who is calling the project simply “The Recovery College,” said the idea came to him after visiting similar programs in Europe in early 2018. These programs were similar to techniques used in the 1970s that utilized college students to run listening sessions for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Within six months, 80 percent of the individuals in the study were functional, Horn said.

Through the program, Horn said he planned to advocate for goal setting as a part of recovery. For some, these goals could be as universal as having a driver’s license or finding a home. To keep his students on track, Horn said courses and treatment would include intermediate goals to help keep him on track.

Mental health issues can run the gamut from anger issues and depression to bipolar and other disorders. Many suffering from mental health issues also have issues with substance abuse and in some cases homelessness, he said.

The new program represents a different direction for Horn, who previously served as executive director and founder of Four Rivers Outreach in Sherman. While his former program’s focus was on treating substance abuse first, Horn said the college reverse the order.

“Back then I treated substance abuse first and mental health second,” he said. “Now I am treating mental health first and substance abuse second.

The college will be designed to pick up where other local resources stop, Horn said. While immediate help is available through local behavioral health resources, Horn said most programs end after a 72 hour observation and potentially med, which the college will not offer.

“The only option in our community when you leave is basically the Community Center and they can’t always take you immediately,” he said. “What we want to offer is that immediate assistance.

Horn currently operates a smaller version of the program two days a week with 10 students through Covenant Presbyterian Church in Sherman.

Once the program finds a permanent home, Horn said he plans to expand the operating schedule to allow for up to 100 students through staggered sessions. Currently, he is looking for a location that would ideally have about 1,000 square feet of space and a kitchen.

The proposed program bears some similarities to other programs Horn has attempted to launch in the past. In late 2015, Horn attempted to use the former Grayson County Central Appraisal District building to house another program that would also feature the listening session model.

However, Horn said the project never got off the ground due to cash flow issues.

Horn said the latest initiative will take about $50,000 to launch and would be financed through grants and billing Medicaid for its services. Making Dreams real is currently applying filing for approval to work with Medicare recipients as well. One of the program’s first fundraising efforts will come in November as a part of Giving Tuesday — a day of charitable giving following the Thanksgiving holiday.