Members of the Texas Tech Mental Health Initiative stressed the importance of mental health services in Lubbock Monday as a new report showed a need for care in the community.
The group announced they would be forming the West Texas Mental Health Collaborative, which will include working with community partners and leaders to support families and individuals with mental health challenges.
The announcement comes after an assessment by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute that focused on Lubbock, Cochran, Crosby, Hockley and Lynn County. The Meadows Report suggested a need for continuity of care services, increased services to lead individuals to treatment instead of jails and emergency departments, and that leaders focus on youth and families as a crucial part of early intervention, among other highlights.
“One finding shared from the Meadows Report is that mental health needs continue to be cared for separately than physical needs,” said Dr. Lori Rice-Spearman, TTUHSC president. “We would like to be a part of developing a model that was created right here at the HSC where we integrate caring for the mind and body together.”
The collaborative’s Lubbock partners include the City of Lubbock, Texas Tech, Community Foundation of West Texas, Covenant Health, Lubbock County, StarCare Specialty Health and University Medical Center.
The formation of the collaborative was an important time for West Texas, as Texas Tech Chancellor Dr. Tedd Mitchell said the topic of mental health doesn’t get the attention it needs.
“Mental health is one of those things that, because people don’t like to talk about it, it’s a hidden disease no one ever really deals with,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said they were not in the best position on how to get the care out to those in need, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made telehealth more accessible.
“We’re now in a position to be able to hand this care to people that need it,” said Mitchell. “We’ve really moved forward by leaps and bounds.”
Beth Watson, CEO of StarCare, said recovery from anything, such as a devastating medical diagnosis or death of a loved one, requires hope that they want to give.
“As a world class medical hub, Lubbock is uniquely positioned to revolutionize how healthcare is made available to all citizens,” said Watson.
Mayor Dan Pope and Councilwoman Latrelle Joy have been working with the collaborative and they are excited to help.
“We think there’s much work to be done and we’re ready to go to work,” said Pope.
Pope reflected on his own experience of understanding of mental health services, saying he’s known the topic to be taboo.
“I know personally, it took me a long time to get to the point of realizing counseling and talking to someone about what might trouble you or your marriage is something that makes you stronger,” said Pope. “It’s not a sign of weakness.”
Members of the collaborative hope to serve as a bridge to create and expand treatment including counseling services, crisis…