Sharon Butterworth honored for her dedication to mental health issues

May 9, 2017

There are few leaders in our community who are as knowledgeable, determined and gracious as El Paso’s own Sharon Butterworth.

Sharon has spent more than two decades working to improve services for and change the perceptions about people with mental illness in our region and across the state. She’s served as a community-advocate and leader on multiple local and state boards dedicated to mental health and social services. She travels frequently to Austin to engage with state leaders and brings state leaders to El Paso to learn about the needs in our community. She’s earned many awards for her volunteer work, and on May 5, she deservedly received another. Mental Health America - Texas (MHAT) presented Sharon with its Texas Impact Award at a gala dinner in Austin. The board and staff of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation extend our sincerest congratulations to Sharon for this distinguished statewide recognition.

Sharon Butterworth is an exemplary leader in so many ways. She’s a successful businesswoman who co-founded Lawyers Title of El Paso with her late husband, Hughes Butterworth. She’s a mother of five and a grandmother to eight. I know her best in her role as civic leader and volunteer, and valued friend. She brings ideas and people together to improve programs and systems working tirelessly at both the grassroots level and with governmental, corporate and foundation leaders.

As the vice-chair of the Health Foundation board, Sharon has been a big part of ensuring that we make mental and emotional well-being a community priority. She chairs the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium, which the Health Foundation helped establish and now facilitates. The consortium brings together executives from healthcare, government and nonprofit organizations to improve our local mental and behavioral health system. The consortium has identified special focus areas including the intersection of criminal justice and mental illness, significant gaps in crisis care, and the need to integrate behavioral healthcare with primary healthcare. Three leadership councils and dozens of organizations within the consortium are working on solutions.

Sharon is also a champion of our “Think. Change” initiative designed to support programs that reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. She’s worked with the University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to tackle one of our region’s most stubborn behavioral health challenges – a severe shortage of trained and licensed mental health professionals.

Sharon is a critical link to the part of Texas that lies east of our Mountain Time. From 2014-2016, she served on Texas Health and Human Services Commission Council (HHSC), a post she was appointed to by former Governor Rick Perry. As part of the council she helped develop policies and rules for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and make recommendations regarding management and operation of the commission. HHSC oversees the state’s Medicaid program, child protective services, state health services and hospitals, and many other functions.

Her insights and knowledge have been invaluable to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a statewide organization that provides data driven, nonpartisan policy research and technical assistance to improve behavioral health services in Texas. She is a member of its board and hosted the institute’s regional launch in 2014.

Because of Sharon Butterworth’s dedicated leadership, Texans with mental illness have a better chance of finding effective treatment and leading productive, fulfilling lives. For this, she’s a true Texas treasure incredibly deserving of the MHAT Texas Impact Award.

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