6th Annual Consortium Progress Summit Features National Leaders, Celebrates Progress

October 21, 2020

The El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium held its 6th Annual — and first virtual - Progress Summit on Wednesday, October 14th. More than 100 stakeholders joined the session to hear from nationally-renowned leaders in mental and behavioral health.

Tracy Yellen, CEO for Paso del Norte Community Foundation and Paso del Norte Health Foundation and Chair of the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium, kicked-off the event recognizing the progress that mental health partners have made across continuum of care in El Paso County:

  • Improved Crisis Care and Justice System coordination of care thanks to collaborations among the County of El Paso, Sheriff’s Office, Emergence Health Network, City of El Paso, and University Medical Center El Paso.
  • Timely access to care for children, youth and families both in person and through telehealth thanks to multiple collaborations among Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and a growing list of nonprofits such as the El Paso Child Guidance Center, Aliviane, Family Services of El Paso, El Paso Center for Children, Project Vida Health Center, and Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center.
  • Increased availability of education and training programs thanks to a growing number of volunteer instructors coordinated by NAMI El Paso and mental health professionals at Emergence Health Network.

These improvements – and the collaboration that made them possible - have been especially important with the tragedy of August 3rd and COVID 19.

Linda Rosenberg, Director of External Relations at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and former CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, provided a hope-filled presentation reflecting on her visit to El Paso in 2015 and forecasting how mental health and addiction services will look in the next few years. She explained that nationally, two-thirds of primary care providers report poorer access to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) care than any other specialty. She added that mental health conditions are now a mainstream topic. Citing data showing that now more than ever before, Americans are seeking mental health and addiction help. In fact, six in ten Americans have sought treatment either for themselves or a loved one. She closed by describing a future where healthcare is integrated and accessible.

The Progress Summit included a status report on the 2020 El Paso Behavioral Health System Assessment by Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) Team Leads Melissa Rowan and John Petrila. They include themes such as the need to inform the community on how to access crisis systems and existing services.

Dr. Andrew Keller, CEO, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, closed the session with an overview of the significant changes resulting from the hard work of champion state legislators including El Paso’s delegation. He commented that in the 86th Legislative session there was an estimated $616 million dollar increase in funding including, $120 million to support grants to local communities to expand access to mental health services, $100 million to fund a new School Safety Allotment, and $99 million to establish the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium. Dr. Keller commented that mental health, addiction and intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) funding continue to be important parts of the state budget. He responded to questions on what might be expected during the upcoming 87th Texas Legislative Session.

While much has been accomplished in the community, the Summit recognized the work still to be done. “No individual or family should be isolated when confronted with a behavioral health problem. We are making progress as a community, but we still have much more to do. What is most important is that we continue to collaborate, that is the only way we can maintain positive changes. We must stay united to build better options for our region,” noted Sharon Butterworth, Mental Health Advocate, El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium founder, and Paso del Norte Health Foundation Board Member and Immediate Past Chair.

Holly Mata and Maria Carrillo, co-chairs of the Brain Trust Network, attended the summit and are grateful that talk was less about ‘what can individuals do’ and much more about ‘what can communities do’. “We have such a strong network of people and organizations who are passionate advocates for the systems and policy improvements we need to ensure that everyone has access to the healthcare and social services they need across the lifespan”.

To view the presentations, look for mental health services, or to learn more about the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium visit:

More information

For Mental Health and Addiction support: Emergence Health Network 24 Hour Crisis Line: 915-779-1800,
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255,
National Alliance on Mental Illness in El Paso: 915-778-5726,
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press 1
Crisis Text Line: Text 741741
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 800-662- 4357,

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