Texoma Community Center is preparing to help North Texans through the anxiety, depression and other effects of COVID-19 can have on individuals.


The community center announced Monday that it will soon be receiving a $188,000 grant to offer emergency assistance and counseling services related to the ongoing pandemic.


The grant is being issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. For the state of Texas, the program is being called the Texas Recovering Together program and is expected to last 60 days.


“By assessing the emotional needs of survivors and making referrals to behavioral health services when necessary, identifying community resources and disaster relief services, TCC hopes to provide emotional support, education, basic crisis counseling, and a connection to familial and community support systems,” TCC Program Manager Vicky Lindsey said.


In order to receive the funding, a presidential declaration of disaster is required and the need for short-term behavioral health support must fall beyond the state’s needs.


In April, the center announced that it would be pursing a $220,000 grant to allow emergency counseling.


“I think for the biggest concern for us is after this virus, right now we are already seeing an increase in calls and the second wave of the virus we are going to have to address as a local community are the mental health effects, and that is going to last for years beyond what the virus is going to do physically,” TCC CEO Diana Cantu said in April.


During the interim, officials with Harris County and the Meadows Mental Health Foundation set up a hot line in conjunction with mental health providers across the state to meet the additional need.


Lindsey said the grant will likely have reach outside of the center’s traditional clients and impact the greater community. Given the wide impacts, ranging from uncertainty and fear in some and the loss of income and financial instability, Cantu said the center may see new faces seeking mental health during a traumatic time.


“We are starting to see calls of people getting concerned,” Cantu said in April. “We are starting to see a lot of anxiety, we are seeing people call about being depressed.”


I think the anxiety in particular is with people who were laid off, or losing their jobs. You have a lot of people who fear for their health and their family.”


Lindsey noted that the program is being handled anonymously and a new patient file is not being created for those seeking help. As with many of the center’s services, counseling will be provided remotely using tele-health services, she said.


While the statewide program is slated to extend for 60 days, Lindsey and Cantu said the need and trauma could extend out as much longer. However, this grant helps start the healing process, Lindsey said.


This is not the first time that TCC has received similar grants for counseling. A previous grant was used to provide services to those displaced to North Texas by Hurricane Katrina. In West Texas, a grant was used to provide services to those affected by the 2019 shooting in an El Paso Walmart that claimed the lives of 23 people.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.