Prosper Waco hosts ‘Waco Prospers’ event on behavioral health

By Telawna Kirbie

“Waco Prospers” is a new way for Prosper Waco to share its work in a meaningful and comprehensive way. We held the first such event in October, and others are planned.

Last year, Prosper Waco’s director of research and community impact, Jeremy Rhodes, led a community effort to identify data related to Greater Waco’s most pressing needs. This information was presented as a “Snapshot” of our community in six major areas — population and income, education, housing, health, labor and economic development, and connectivity.

Andy Miller speaks during the "Waco Prospers" event dealing with behavioral health issues.

Fourteen community leaders met over a period of months and compiled data. The information was then collected and printed in a formal document titled, “The Waco Snapshot Report,” which you can access on our website. Prosper Waco then provided a formal presentation to the community on this report.

In a similar fashion, Prosper Waco will be presenting annual Snapshots of its collaborative efforts to provide transparency and open communication about the work in our community. These will be called “Waco Prospers.”

Just this month, Prosper Waco presented the first of these community events. The presentation was “Waco Prospers: A Snapshot of Behavioral Health.” This presentation included a broad sweep of the principal areas of work in behavioral health. It served as a time to share needs, resources, and data. We also were able to highlight community partners and their work, as well as brag on ourselves and the numerous ways Prosper Waco has been able to make an impact in behavioral health.

The presentation also included areas of ongoing and future work in this area. The audience included local partners, as well as current and future potential funders of our work here in Waco for behavioral health.

Many strides have been made in creating a service, Waco Connect, to support community members in accessing resources to meet their needs. Waco Connect has proven its utility and effectiveness, and there are plans to expand this service from the two initial pilot projects to the broader Waco community.

There are community partners involved in the expansion and transition of Waco Connect. The pilot project within the local police department has proven to be so effective that the City of Waco has formally added the first social work position within the department to address mental health needs. Through this collaborative relationship with Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and our police department, the City was able to save thousands of dollars and many hours spent by police officers managing mental health crises.

BHN and Waco Police were able to develop a more streamlined and coordinated response to community members in mental health crises. There is a consensus among community partners that the expansion of Waco Connect will enhance the health of the community by promoting this increased access to resources.

The Waco Prospers event also offered the opportunity for two of our local partners to share about current and upcoming resources. BHN shared about the much-anticipated Crisis Hub, which is in progress and expected to open in May 2023. The Crisis Hub has been designed according to community needs and will be an expansion of our local crisis services.

Waco Family Medicine (WFM) also presented information regarding its available behavioral health programs and supports. WFM continues to expand services that truly integrate primary and behavioral health care. They, too, will be getting an upgraded facility to achieve this goal more effectively. WFM also shared a useful tool called “Waco Guide,” which is an app that provides a decision tool for physicians in prescribing for complex situations.

This first event of its kind was extremely successful, and we received positive feedback from our partners who were able to attend. The plan is to offer these events in the other principal areas of our work including health, education, and financial security.

These Snapshot events will be another communication tool in our toolbox to enhance our collaborative partnerships in the community. Stay tuned for more.

Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives for Prosper Waco.