The Texans Reducing Food Insecurity and Depression (TFID) grant is promoting their offer of free counseling in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, which is in May.

The TFID grant was written by Dr. Julie Merriman at Tarleton State University and was awarded to Tarleton's College of Health Sciences and Human Services in June 2019.

The 18-month grant is sponsored by Texas Health Resources and its mission is to reduce food insecurity and depression in individuals who are 55 and above who reside in the 76401 and 76402 zip codes.

The TFID grant has partnered with many local organizations like: Agrilife Erath County, Basic Needs – Graham Street Church of Christ, Bunker Hill Apartments, Cowboy Capital Mental Health Connection, Grace Place First Baptist, Hope Inc., Meals on Wheels of Erath County, Stephenville Senior Citizen Center and Stephenville Crossing Apartments.

The grant offers free MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) counseling services along with services like local food bank enrichment, a community garden, education and trainings, cooking classes and transportation support.

“We're excited to promote and announce that we're here to help during a time of need, especially given that it's Mental Health Awareness Month that we do offer free counseling,” said Brooke Harris, grant administrator. “Our aim is truly to help those who are 55 and older to get connected to whatever they may need, whether it's that they are struggling to get their basic needs met, that they're lonely and need somebody to talk to, they need help with transportation or they're wanting to gain more health education knowledge.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, members and partners with the TFID grant have been calling and conducting welfare checks on individuals to make sure their basic needs are being met and checking in on their overall well-being. Harris said by late March, the grant was serving just over 250 individuals.

“[The grant] promotes a cohesion within a community to lower the stigma of not only food insecurity, but mental health and depression – for people to feel not as isolated and to see that together we are better and we are all here to help,” Harris said.

TFID grant also offers referral services for individuals to refer themselves, a friend or family member. To refer, call 254-413-0883 or visit their website at www.CowboyCapitalMHC.org.

“It really is a very special project because it brings together a lot of organizations that individually are doing wonderful things, but coming together has been really special because everybody's been able to work together towards a common mission,” Harris said. “It was written by Tarleton, so it's enabled Tarleton to infuse all of the organizations with students and faculty and to interweave everyone together; that's community in its essence.”