North Texas collaborative makes appearance at D.C. conference

Lisa Boone (l to r) and Dr. Sushma Sharma at the Washington, D.C. conference.

Representatives of the North Texas Community Health Collaborative were invited to the nation’s capital on April 22- April 25 to discuss “Accelerating the Impact of Population Approaches to Mental Health First Aid” during the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland.

The event attracted more than 5,000 healthcare and business leaders to discuss innovation, improvement, financing, technology and advocacy.

Dr. Sushma Sharma, the DFW Hospital Council Foundation’s director of public and population health research and a member of the Collaborative, was one of three presenters during the Mental Health First Aid workshop.

Additional presenters included Dr. Arthur Evans, Jr., CEO of the American Psychological Association; and Meagan van Harte, senior director of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Dr. Sharma’s presentation detailed the work of the North Texas Community Health Collaborative which represents 11 area health systems. The team has set a strategic goal of improving mental health services in North Texas over the next three years by training 10,000 residents and health employees in mental health first aid.

“An additional focus of the workshop was to explain the collaboration between health systems to develop a data-driven approach to identify areas of need for mental health first aid,” Dr. Sharma said. “By establishing training in high hospital-visit zip codes, we can decrease and prevent mental health hospitalizations in those areas.”

The North Texas Community Health Collaborative released the Behavioral Health Community Needs Assessment Report in February, a 130-page document detailing annual totals of patient visits for mental health and drug issues in 16 counties across North Texas.

Dr. Sharma was accompanied on the Washington, D.C. visit by Lisa Boone, director of training and development at My Health My Resources of Tarrant County and co-chair of the North Texas Community Health Collaborative’s Mental Health First Aid Committee.