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Waco woman's mission to help churches provide mental health benefits

Posted at 7:20 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 21:40:04-05

WACO, TX — Teachers do it, police do it and some even have training for it. They often play the role of a mental health professional when there's no one else to help.

But one group aims to change that.

They don't call it a "church family" for nothing. Tracy Ray feels their warm embrace, whether she needs them or not, something she calls 'a comfort'.

"People in churches are the best people to be helping someone in a critical spot," said the College Station woman.

Meg Wallace felt the same way, but she did something that could make things better.

She created the "Amberly Collaborative" to promote the field. A field where experts say there aren't enough experts and find ways to help.

When Wallace started working on bridging the mental health gap found in many cities, she thought about places that might already give support. The first most natural place to look, churches.

Since churches offer such a nurturing environment, she felt they fit well with trying to help people in crisis, be it from a loss or other devastating life change.

"We wanted, as one of our first projects, to work with churches to help them be more responsive to people affected by mental illness. But we recognize that before we started offering something we had to have a good sense of what people were already experiencing," said Wallace.

Now begins the conversation about how churches can leverage their offerings in the mental health field across religions, to help the most people.

From more complicated help to simple support, Wallace believes a caring congregation or pastor can do a lot.

Tracy Ray agrees, "sometimes all you need is to just know you're not alone.” she said.

And she says that's the first step to feeling a little bit better.