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Victoria County Receives $410,000 Grant to Address Rural Mental Health

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AUSTIN, Texas – The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded $410,000 to Victoria County’s Be Well Victoria program to support opportunities for resilience, mental health and overall well-being in our community. The grant is part of the foundation’s larger effort to transform the environments where people live, learn, work, play and pray, bringing a population health approach to support resilience, mental health and well-being at the community level. The funds will be made available over a three year period through the foundation’s Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities project.

Be Well Victoria will directly fund a Project Consultant and two Community Health Workers, who will be housed in the County’s Patti Dodson Health Center.  Through a collaborative effort of local participants, the focus of the project will be to identify the conditions specific to the local area that contribute to health and mental inequities; to  identify groups of individuals historically lacking access to mental health services; and to implement a comprehensive approach to addressing both physical and mental health needs.

Be Well Victoria workers will specifically identify residents who are living with possible mental health issues and provide appropriate referral and support services through navigation activities which ensures that client follow-through is a priority. Victoria County health statistics demonstrate that our county is above state levels in diabetes, adult obesity, excessive drinking, teen births and mental distress. This project is a grass roots approach to a Be Well lifestyle.

Victoria County is one of five recipients in Texas benefiting from grants totaling $2 million to create or build on an existing community collaborative. Each collaborative consists of key stakeholders from across sectors, including people who have been historically excluded from community decision-making processes, who are developing and/or delivering strategies to move their community toward greater well-being.

Victoria County is ranked 103 out of 242 Texas counties on overall health outcomes by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Conditions that influence well-being in Victoria County include premature death specifically among our most impoverished citizens, quality of life that reflects on poor physical and mental health outcomes inclusive of high infant mortality rates, and associated health factors.  The County Health Rankings Report also reflects a frequency of both mental and physical distress further aggravated by high prevalence of both Diabetes and HIV. 

The initiative grows out of the Hogg Foundation’s new strategic direction, which is shifting from a primary focus on individual mental illness to the upstream or root causes of poor mental health at the community and systems level. It recognizes that community-based approaches are necessary to make a lasting transformation in mental health and well-being. Not only does the new initiative focus on rural communities, but the projects are designed to ensure the participation of historically excluded groups.

The other four grantees are:  

  • Bastrop County Cares (Bastrop County)
  • Community Action Corporation of South Texas (Brooks County)
  • Northeast Texas Community College (Morris County)
  • Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches County)

“We were extremely impressed with the quality and innovativeness of the proposals submitted by over 60 rural communities from across the state,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. “It was a challenge to select only five communities to embark on this new partnership.”

Victoria County Judge Ben Zeller has worked closely with the County’s Public Health Department in identifying this funding opportunity for healthier Victoria projects. “I am pleased that we are able to take another step forward in addressing the needs of our community, and especially to implement outreach efforts to the individuals and neighborhoods most in need” said Zeller.

Learn more about the Hogg Foundation’s new focus on collaborative approaches to mental health.  

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