Facing Mental Health with a Plan

KCBD Healthwise 08/24/2020

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - "If you talk about rural health, rural health in general, but mental health in particular, it's something that has never gotten the attention that it really needs to get." That was how Texas Tech Chancellor Dr. Tedd Mitchell opened the news conference today that led to an announcement that could change the way mental health issues are addressed in West Texas.

The West Texas Mental Health Collaborative was established to strengthen mental health efforts from TTMHI along with the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, University Medical Health System, Covenant Health System and StarCare Specialty Health System, the local mental health authority.

Today the TTUHSC invited health experts and leaders across the city to come together and learn what is planned to assess and help the mental health needs in Lubbock, Cochran, Crosby, Hockley and Lynn counties.

The concern is that one in 5 adults in this country and 17 percent of youth experience a mental illness or mental health disorder at some point, and COVID-19 has become an easy trigger to make things worse. 

Beth Lawson, CEO of StarCare Specialty Health System, explained, “The symptoms are scary sometimes; Depression, when you think you can’t get out of bed or when you think something is talking to you but it might not be. The highest incidence of mental health issues are anxiety.”

Dr. Lori Rice-Spearman, President of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, told the group, “We would like to be a part of developing a model that is created right here at the HSC where we integrate caring for the mind and body together.” She explains that would involve training health care providers in mental health issues across the spectrum of intervention, prevention, treatment, case management and recovery. She says this will come from the collaborative work of the TTMHI, using a survey by the Meadows Foundation to learn the mental health needs in this area.

Anyone there today would likely notice some familiar faces we see regularly in COVID-19 weekly news conferences. Mayor Dan Pope, Health Department Director Katherine Wells and Lubbock Health Authority Dr. Ron Cook are among many in this initiative hoping to change the face of mental health in this region.

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