North Texas Community Health Collaborative achieves “10,000 Lives Goal”



The DFW Hospital Council (DFWHC) Foundation announced today that its Community Health Collaborative had surpassed its goal of training 10,000 North Texas residents in Mental Health First Aid. To date, the collaborative has trained 14,864 residents in 16 counties to include Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Wise.

In 2017, the Community Health Collaborative’s advisory board announced a commitment to train 10,000 North Texans in Mental Health First Aid over three years. The project was advanced in 2018 and 2020 when the DFWHC Foundation received a Community Mental Health Grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to continue coordination of Mental Health First Aid Training in North Texas.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. Evidence behind the program demonstrates it builds mental health literacy while helping the public identify and respond to signs of mental illness.

“So many people deserve thanks for achieving this goal,” said Dr. Sushma Sharma, director of public and population health research at the DFWHC Foundation. “This was truly a team effort combining the efforts of 10 area health systems, local mental health authorities and community leaders.”

The DFWHC Foundation’s Community Health Collaborative was guided by committee chairs Lisa Boone-Reddick, senior director of My Health My Resources of Tarrant County; Ashley Rodriguez, community health worker system manager, Baylor Scott & White Health; Sherry Cusumano, administrative director of community education and clinical development, Medical City Green Oaks; and Ashleigh Kinney, director of family services and child life, Scottish Rite for Children.

“It was a great team effort that we hope to continue,” said Kinney. “The ultimate goal is to create awareness about mental health issues. We believe we achieved this goal with almost 15,000 participants across North Texas.”

The Mental Health First Aid course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer help in a crisis and connect persons to the appropriate professional 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. The course has been available virtually during the pandemic.

For information, please go to www.healthyntexas.org. For recruitment and training schedules, please contact the team at [email protected]. You can also contact Dr. Sharma at [email protected].