DFW Hospital Council Foundation to Aid Mental Health Shortfalls with Grant

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation will receive a Community Mental Health Grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The grant will support the Foundation’s work through the North Texas Community Health Collaborative and provide mental health first aid training to 12 rural North Texas counties, including Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise counties.

According to a Behavioral Health Community Needs Assessment Report released by the Community Health Collaborative earlier this year, rural North Texas counties have higher rates of behavioral health hospital visits than urban or suburban counties. Many of them also have higher suicide rates, depression rates, frequent mental distress, and higher number of days with low mental health.

Meanwhile, the study shows that these rural counties are well below the average rate in the U.S. for behavioral health providers. Nationwide, there are about 90 behavioral health providers per 100,000 people, but in Hunt, Ellis, and Parker counties in North Texas, there are less than 60 providers per 100,000 people. In Wise county it is closer to 15 per 100,000. Six counties in North Texas have no psychiatry beds, psychiatry hospitals or other hospitals with psychiatry care beds.

The collaborative is committed to training to 10,000 lay persons over the next three years across North Texas counties in mental health first aid. The eight hour training includes how to offer initial health in a mental health crisis and connect people with proper care, as well as teaching people how to identify warning signs for anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and more.

Access to mental health facilities is not just limited to rural communities, and the trainings are also available in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties. Earlier this year, Timberlawn Behavioral Health System voluntarily closed its doors after the state threatened to revoke its license after concerns over patient safety.

“We are honored to receive this grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission,” said Kristin Jenkins, president of the DFWHC Foundation via release. “As the assessment report revealed, the lack of behavioral healthcare in North Texas is troubling. The time to start recognizing and joining together to initiate change for our population is well overdue, and this is where Mental Health First Aid training will play a vital role.”