woman talks to counselor over video chat

Telebehavioral Care program receives funds to expand services in Brazos Valley

Grant award from Texas HHSC will allow program to provide more counseling services in Spanish
October 6, 2020

For more than a decade, the Telebehavioral Care program at Texas A&M Health has been making it easier for Texans in rural and outlying areas to access mental health services. Now, thanks to a grant award from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), the program is building upon existing groundwork, which includes providing more services in Spanish.

The $500,000 grant was awarded through HHSC’s Community Mental Health Grant Program that supports mental health services and projects in Texas. The funds will enable Telebehavioral Care to provide more resources for clients, increase community outreach efforts and improve accessibility for those who speak Spanish. This includes hiring dedicated Spanish-speaking counselors.

“We are working hard to really improve access to mental health services for Spanish-speaking and Latinx members of the Brazos Valley community,” said Carly McCord, PhD, director of Telebehavioral Care. “In addition to hiring Spanish-speaking and culturally competent counselors, we are going through and improving the entire client journey experience in Spanish, from phone prompts and forms to resources and support.”

Speaking the same language is extremely important for care providers and clients, because language is more than words—it is an expression of a person’s heritage, is part of their identity and is the way a person articulates their emotions. Spanish-speaking clients are more likely to disclose personal information and develop stronger relationships with Spanish-speaking therapists than with non-Spanish-speaking therapists. For 16.6 percent of people who live in Brazos County, Spanish is their first language.

As the name implies, Telebehavioral Care uses telehealth to reach clients in rural and outlying areas. Clients can use their own device to talk to their therapist at home, but for those who do not have strong internet or prefer to see their therapist outside of home, they can travel a short distance to the nearest Telebehavioral Care access point. These discreet access points, fitted with private rooms and the necessary technology, allow clients to video chat with their counselor.

“We have established relationships with community and clinical partners in the counties surrounding Brazos County to establish convenient care sites,” McCord said. “We are really committed to working with communities, not just in communities, to improve mental health.”

Telebehavioral Care is a collaboration between the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the Department of Educational Psychology at the College of Education and Human Development. Counseling is provided by trained and skilled psychology doctoral students at Texas A&M who are supervised by licensed professionals.

— Lindsey Hendrix

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