Foundation thanks hospitals during Mental Health Awareness Month

Since 1949 in the U.S., May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close, the DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation would like to thank hospitals, local mental health authorities, partners and leaders for supporting the “10,000 Lives Program” for North Texas.

With seven North Texas counties having no psychiatric care beds and the number of behavioral care providers throughout the region below national and state levels, the DFWHC Foundation continues to conduct collaborative efforts to support the mental health needs of North Texans.

In 2017, the DFWHC Foundation led the Community Health Collaborative (CHC) in announcing a commitment to train 10,000 people over three years in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). The CHC-MHFA committee is working towards this goal through a collaborative partnership of 40+ organizations including health systems, local mental health authorities, community-based organizations, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and schools.

Under the leadership of the CHC- MHFA committee chairs Lisa Boone (MHMR Tarrant County) and Sherry Cusumano (Medical City Healthcare), the committee has trained nearly 9,000 North Texans and are hopeful to fulfill this commitment by the end of 2020.

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to warning signs of mental illnesses and an understanding of their impact. The 8-hour course 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.

“Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect that person with help,” said Dr. Sushma Sharma, director of population health research at the DFWHC Foundation. “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?’”

For information on North Texas Mental Health First Aid training, please go to For recruitment and training schedules, please contact the team at You can also contact Dr. Sharma at