Individuals turning to Richardson-based nonprofit Network of Community Ministries will soon have access to free mental health care as part of the organization’s stabilization program.

Current situation

Abbie Kauffman, Network of Community Ministries president and CEO, said the nonprofit does not have a mental health care component within its stabilization program that provides case management, life skills and education opportunities to those in need. The organization plans to add mental health resources and three staff members by the end of 2023 to provide more comprehensive care for individuals from Richardson and Lake Highlands who turn to the organization for assistance.

The organization hired Chief Strategy Officer Amanda Pels, who is a licensed clinical social worker supervisor. Kauffman said Pels’ certification will allow her to oversee a program that will house different elements, including clinical interns from partner organizations such as Richardson ISD.

Kauffman said there was a need for mental health services because of the populations served by Network of Community Ministries, including those in poverty and refugees, who may have a traumatic experience. Additionally, the hiring of Pels and a capacity to hire the necessary staff created the ability to immediately impact the community with mental health services, Kauffman added.

What they’re saying

Kauffman said the socioeconomic conditions of the populations served by the nonprofit enhance the need for affordable, high-quality mental health care.

“Our neighbors tend not to have access to mental health care because they can’t afford it or may not have insurance coverage,” Kauffman said. “If they do have access to it, it is not great quality, or it might not be culturally competent for them and the additional barriers they might have.”

What to expect

Starting in the nonprofit’s first quarter that began in July, Kauffman said the mental health services program is being designed and built from the ground up. Ideally, the hiring of both a licensed counselor therapist and the necessary intake and administrative support staff will be finalized by the end of the year, she added.

“We’re taking a slow ramp-up to this as this is not a service we previously provided,” Kauffman said. “We want to make sure the program that we build is intentional, meets the needs of our neighbors and that it’s sustainable if it needs to continue to grow.”

Several services will be offered, including:
  • Intake
  • Crisis intervention
  • Group and individual therapy sessions
  • Trauma counseling
  • Referrals to additional psychiatric services that can provide medication
Kauffman said some of the people it serves in Richardson and northeast Dallas may be living paycheck to paycheck, and the increased economic productivity created by the investment in mental health could help them make ends meet because adequate mental health care may allow them to perform better at work.

Those interested in or in need of services from Network of Community Ministries can visit its website.