Free mental health services provided in Young County
Everyone is in need of help at one point or another in their lives. For rural Texas, it can be hard to find the services needed, especially for mental health.
Affirming Texas Families Services, a non-profit counseling organization out of Bowie, began in January 2018 when the United Presbyterian Church of Montague County began providing free rural mental health services. What started in 2018 became bigger as they hired salaried employees after a federal grant came in November 2019. The organization has little overhead, as the church allows them to have an office in their building and they meet with clients in their homes or at a safe, neutral location.
ATFS Board Chair Jenny Rizzolo said even though they provide other services, they have a focus. “We provide counseling services, that is our primary goal, and counseling services to victims of crime and also the extended family of those victims,” Rizzolo said. “We work very closely with law enforcement and referrals come in through, CPS, for example.”
With the focus on mental health, there are still other aspects given by the organization.
“We do also provide additional services such as parenting classes, financial assistance classes, you know how to budget — basic budgeting skills for people,” Rizzolo said.
With their counseling classes, Laura Taylor, one of the licensed counselors on staff, said they do a wide variety of sessions.
“Our priority would be victims of crime, victims of trauma. We do everything from individual counseling to couples counseling, children or teens counseling — family counseling. We use a variety of therapies, whatever’s best for the client,” Taylor said.
Even though Affirming Texas Families Services is based in Montague County, they have expanded in to two other rural counties.
“We work in three counties — Young County, Jack County and Montague County,” Rizzolo said.
ATFS is not just in the cities of those counties, they stretch across the counties to help all those who need the services.
ATFS receives most of their clients through referrals from government agencies, such as police, CPS, churches and schools, but Rizzolo states their website does have an online referral system and the organization has a hotline.
“We’ve done a lot of organic growth at this point in time, over the last two years,” Rizzolo said. “So, we are looking to grow our services organically, through referrals, being able to reach out to more people. We feel it is very important that mental health is one of those topics that a lot of people don’t like to talk about and we think it’s a very important topic (...) there (is) just such a stigma about it, that there shouldn’t be.”
For the full story, see the Wednesday, Jan. 8 edition of The Graham Leader.