It is my pleasure to introduce a new program in our community called Waco Connect. This community-based program is a joint venture of both Prosper Waco and the Heart of Texas Region MHMR Center.
Our goal is to provide social care coordination to community members to promote physical and mental health with a focus on resources that address the “Social Determinants of Health” (SDoH). The World Health Organization defines SDoH as “the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age.” The determinants include, but are not limited to, housing, financial stability, employment, education, transportation, both physical and psychological safety, as well as various social needs. By improving SDoH, we have the ability to directly impact the overall physical and mental health of our community.
An early phase of Waco Connect is a collaboration with the Waco Police Department that is being sponsored by the City of Waco. Waco Connect will support community members who have underlying mental health needs that lead to frequent law enforcement contacts. Waco Connect staff will complete a needs assessment, assist the community member in identifying goals, link them to resources, and offer ongoing support for up to one year. A main objective of this program is to reduce law enforcement contacts, emergency department visits, and mental health crises that require hospitalization.
When we help meet the needs of those who are struggling, we all benefit. Mental health crises have implications that start with an individual and ripple out to affect all levels of our communities. As Waco Connect works to link our community members to resources and assist them in accessing services that promote mental health, we will be addressing individual needs that will hopefully lead to improvements in physical health, mental health, and overall quality of life. By avoiding more costly interventions such as law enforcement involvement, emergency department visits, and inpatient hospitalizations, we will have increased access to already limited resources.
Waco Connect is looking to launch this phase of the program in June of this year.
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health programs with Prosper Waco.