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El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium brings all the players to the table

December 16, 2015

El Paso County leaders are working to transform the current behavioral healthcare system into an ideal, accessible, person-centered behavioral health system of care. To tackle this daunting and complex task the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium was formed.

Its first step was to do an in-depth assessment to understand services being provided and the organizations providing them. This 8 month process resulted was an extensive report including analyzed data on needs and local resources, interviews with over 50 community leaders, clinicians and stakeholders and recommendations for action based on national and international best and promising practices.

“The report confirmed what the consortium leaders suspected, the dire need for a countywide structure with dedicated leadership, staffing, and organization to coordinate cross-agency collaboration. “We now have a growing list of consortium partners dedicated to making lasting improvements to the county’s behavioral health system. This is a tremendous step forward” says Enrique Mata, who staffs the consortium as a senior program officer with Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

The consortium’s next step was to form strategic leadership councils in three areas: Family, focusing on child and adolescent behavioral health; Justice, focusing on jail diversion, inmate service and community support to prevent recidivism; and Integration, focusing on coordination of behavioral health and primary care services. Each council is populated with executive leaders working on organizational policies and cross organization communication.

Paso del Norte Health Foundation serves as a neutral facilitator, ensuring that there is continuity to the consortium, chronicling the work being done and coordinating progress toward objectives.

“This is a great time in the Paso del Norte region. Organizations and agencies are coming together to eliminate the negative bias associated with mental illness and build lasting collaboration for comprehensive person centered behavioral health,” said Sharon Butterworth, a Paso del Norte Health Foundation Board Member and chair of the consortium.

The consortium partners seek out existing groups to align efforts and map out services and support systems. Some examples of topics the consortium is working on include; collaboration among foster care system partners, addressing behavioral health workforce shortages, coordinating mental health services provided to adult inmates, and support of school districts in implementing plans to prevent truancy.

“Each consortium partner plays a vital role in building an effective and efficient behavioral health system that is prepared for individuals and families to access services when and where they need them.” Mata states. The Consortium is committed to ongoing collaboration where all partners are welcome, empowered, and unified to achieve this vision.

To that end, the consortium plans to have an annual summit each year to report progress of the Leadership Councils and to demonstrate that by working together, a coordinated behavioral health system can have more impact than organizations working alone.

For more information on the consortium, click here.

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