LUBBOCK, Texas — City Council gave Lubbock Catholic Charities a $70,000 grant Tuesday night to provide free counseling sessions to those who may be uninsured or underinsured.

Due to the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, leaders from the West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS) decided to start a program to support mental health.

“My own patients have had an increased level of depression, anxiety related to fears of contracting COVID-19 or a family member contracting and having fatal consequences,” said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Cheryl Hall. “I’ve had high volumes of new people calling in, wanting to get services that have never experienced mental health issues before. And we have a lot of economic changes we have health insurance losses.”

Dr. Hall explained that she is one of the members of the team of psychologists, therapists and life coaches that will be providing this care.

WTOS asked a variety of members within the Lubbock community how Covid-19 had impacted their family, and the most common answer was mental health. As a result, the grant came from the city’s Covid-19 relief funds.

“The reason mental health is so important is that we know mental health affects your daily functioning,” said Dr. Hall. “This is something that we know the citizens for Lubbock need.”

Catholic Charities has collaborated with WTOS to help bring awareness to the program.

“Catholic Charities has actually been called in to administer the program. So, it’s just been really great to have that approved and ready to go,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Cynthia Quintanilla. “And we’re just excited about being able to provide the services.”

Dr. Hall explained that given the pandemic, it is normal to feel a little stressed out. However, Catholic Charities said that they hope people will take advantage of the care despite the stigma that often surrounds seeking care for mental health.

“I hope that they will be able to utilize the program that they’ll put aside any kind of stigma that they feel goes along with mental health issues, and just concentrate on getting to a place of well-being and being healthier,” said Quintanilla.

The program will kick-off Tuesday, September 15, and those interested in signing up for the session can get more information by visiting the Catholic Charities website.