According to Richardson-based Network of Community Ministries, 55% of the millions of Texans diagnosed with a mental health condition do not or cannot seek treatment. The local nonprofit is looking to help fix that with the addition of new services.

In late March, the organization announced adding mental health and wellness to its lineup of services aimed at improving the quality of life for residents in the 14 ZIP codes that are encompassed within Richardson ISD’s boundaries.

“The original intention of Network was that counseling services would be integrated at some time in the future; ... 38 years later, we have finally made that a reality for the organization and for our neighbors,” Network President and CEO Abbie Kauffman said. “Many of our neighbors who are coming to us are experiencing poverty. We know the research shows that poverty in and of itself is traumatic, ... so it makes perfect sense that mental health services would be an extension of what we're providing.”

How it works

When a person seeks services from Network for issues ranging from food and financial insecurity to career development, they are given screeners for anxiety, depression and self-sufficiency. If they score high or self-report mental health issues, they will be connected with one of Network’s professionals for counseling.

With $200,000 in annual funding over the next three years from the city of Richardson, along with a matching donation from the Ruth Ann Marmion Charitable Fund, Network is able to provide the services as long as needed to clients for free—something that’s important when many of the organization’s clients have low incomes or are refugees, Kauffman said. The funding has also allowed Network to add a qualified mental health professional and a licensed master social worker to its team, in addition to helping it contract with a psychiatrist to provide medication management.

Another addition to Network’s programming is the introduction of “parent cafes,” which are “physically and emotionally safe places for parents to gather and learn from their experiences,” Network Chief Strategy Officer Amanda Pels said.

“We are enabling members to contribute more fully to our community,” Kauffman said. “Every single one of us has an important role that we play in the fabric of our community. Network helps facilitate people to participate more fully and just really be a more active participant.”

What else?

According to self-reported data collected by nonprofit Mental Health America of Greater Dallas from 2018-22, the 75080 ZIP code area of Richardson ranks No. 19 among the top ZIP codes in North Texas with the highest number of people with mild to severe depression. Among all ZIP code areas, lower-income residents are affected the most, per the report.

Over the past few months, Network has been able to provide services to more than 300 individuals. Looking ahead, the organization is looking to increase its number of therapists, who can have between 15-20 people on their caseload.

“Mental health ... impacts every single one of us,” Network Clinical Case Manager Ashley Gonzales said. “I just hope that the people that we are able to serve through this program also feel this ability of choice and empowerment to live fully and in fulfillment.”