DFWHC Foundation awarded second phase of funding for community mental health program

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation announced today it was awarded the second phase of funding for its Community Mental Health Grant Program from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). With seven North Texas counties without psychiatric care beds and the number of behavioral care providers throughout the region ranking below national and state levels, the funding is considered critical to support the community’s mental health needs.

The grant allows the DFWHC Foundation to continue its ongoing efforts to provide Mental Health First Aid training, opioid and peer-to-peer support recovery education to 12 rural North Texas counties including Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell and Wise. The program utilizes the national standards from the National Council of Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is managed through the DFWHC Foundation’s cross-functional North Texas Community Health Collaborative, a group of hospital leaders, mental health authorities, community-based organizations and academic institutions.

“We are honored to be selected for the second phase of this grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission,” said Jen Miff, president of the DFWHC Foundation. “This is a clear indication of the value Mental Health First Aid training brings to our community and to the state. Our collaborative’s efforts have really paid off – with a broad range of people now able to identify the warning signs of mental illness and understand their impact. Further, these programs raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.”

The DFWHC Foundation’s Mental Health First Aid program is focused on an eight-hour public education course that uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care. The program also teaches the common risk factors and warning signs of specific types of illnesses including anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

“This second phase of the Community Mental Health Grant Program will support our ongoing initiative to train 10,000 North Texans in Mental Health First Aid,” said Dr. Sushma Sharma, the director of population health research at the DFWHC Foundation and coordinator of the Community Health Collaborative. “We are thrilled to be able to continue this important work and to further our trusted partnerships with health systems, mental health authorities, churches, law enforcement agencies, first responders, schools and community-based organizations like the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA) and others to deliver value to the community.”

Through the program, the Community Health Collaborative will also connect county residents with the behavioral health-related resources available in their area. The proposed education programs in the 12 counties are expected to begin in the next few months.

“Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect that person with help,” Sharma said. “These ‘First Aiders’ do not take on the role of professionals such as providing a diagnosis or counseling. Instead, the program offers them important tools to answer key questions, such as ‘what do I do?’ and ‘where can I find help?’”

The Community Mental Health Grant Program was established by House Bill 13, 85th Legislature, Regular Session, 2017 and authored by Representative Four Price. The 86th Legislature appropriated $45 million in 2019 to continue the Community Mental Health Grant Program in 2020 and 2021.

For information on Mental Health First Aid training in North Texas, please go to www.healthyntexas.org. For recruitment and training schedules, please contact the program team at MHFANTX@dfwhcfoundation.org. You can also contact Dr. Sharma at ssharma@dfwhcfoundation.org.

For more information on the HHSC grant, please go to: