The program began in 2019 as a way to help adults age 55 and older who live in the McKinney ZIP code address chronic disease, depression and isolation, as well as a lack of access to critical resources, such as nutritious foods. Texas Health Resources awarded $450,000 to McKinney-based LifePath Systems, a nonprofit that provides mental health services and substance abuse services, for the Beyond Blue program. LifePath Systems partnered with five other service providers to provide services for local seniors. Those service providers include McKinney Roots, Wellness Center, Community Health Clinic, Community LifeLine Center and the Hope Clinic.
“That grant allowed us to provide counseling and medical services and transportation,” said Melanie Gann, assistant director of Provider Services at LifePath Systems. “It really combines our agencies in a way that ensures there's follow-through with referrals.”
While the first round of funding went through 18 months, in March of this year LifePath Systems launched the second iteration of Beyond Blue with an additional grant from Texas Health Resources for $475,000. This time, however, the program was opened to serve a wider population within the 75069 ZIP code.
“We found that there were a couple of limitations to Round 1,” Gann said. “We would have people who had a friend or someone they knew that could really benefit from all the things, but they were only 52.”
The program aims to decrease depression and anxiety among low-income residents age 18 and older in the McKinney ZIP code and increase food security with these same individuals by December 2022, according to Texas Health Resources.
Gann said the first round of the program had been promising and showed some insights into the need for these types of resources they brought into the second round.
“As COVID[-19] hit, we found that depression increased, but really the primary mental health concern was anxiety. ... The lessons turned into the newer expansion, which now includes anxiety and depression and also expanded ages,” Gann said.
The 75069 ZIP code was identified for this program through research conducted by Texas Health Resources, which pinpoints specific ZIP codes in North Texas most in need of assistance, Texas Health Resources reported.
Since the second round began in March, it has served about 120 individuals, Gann said, but she knows there are more needs than that in the community.
“There is a higher need for mental health and anxiety resources in areas with higher levels of poverty,” Gann said. “And then COVID[-19], of course, came in and caused a much more significant need and isolation, especially with seniors. ... So we've certainly seen a much higher rate of anxiety and depression since COVID[-19]. But there's already such a need out there in our world today.”
People who want to enroll in the Beyond Blue program do have to meet certain income restrictions, which LifePath screens, Gann said. Individuals also have to show signs of having at least mild anxiety or depression. Once in the program, these individuals will have access to mental health case management, skills training, counseling, medical care, social groups and transportation assistance, Gann said.
If seniors in the community need additional help outside this scope, they can still contact LifePath Systems, she said.
“If you've got a senior that is struggling with any sort of mental health or substance use disorders, they need to come to us,” Gann said. “We take Medicare ... and can absolutely work with them.”
1515 Heritage Drive, McKinney
24/7 crisis line: 1-877-422-5939
Those interested in applying for the Beyond Blue program can email [email protected] or call 469-631-2910.