Addressing mental health in the Texas Panhandle
This article was originally published by ABC7 Amarillo on April 28, 2022.
Barriers to healthcare affect millions in the United States and for those seeking mental healthcare, those roadblocks can be even more debilitating.
The Amarillo Area Foundation and Meadows Institute have raised nearly half a million dollars to ease the process for those who may be vulnerable.
“Our brains are in our bodies and so we should treat mental healthcare as healthcare,” said Amanda Mathias, senior V.P. clinical policy & innovation for Meadows Institute.
“The reality is the covid pandemic has impacted everyone in multiple ways,” said Michael Cruz, CEO of BSA Health System.
Mental health is clearly one of the more substantive ways its impacted folks in the Texas Panhandle. A new collaboration between the Amarillo Area Foundation and Meadows Institute will provide resources and best practice medicine to primary care providers who are at the forefront with individuals who have mental health needs.
“It’s really an opportunity to enhance what primary care physicians are already doing by having regular screening and detection for mental health issues,” said Melissa Rowan, chief operating officer at Meadows Institute. “It’s just like you do when you go to primary care for well check just some extra questions if that screens positive then there is a plan on what you do from there.”
“It allows for multiple resources to be funded in both the rural communities and in Amarillo proper so that’s going to give us a blanket of resources for individuals of the Texas Panhandle,” said Cruz.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on additional anxiety and depression among the entire population, especially adolescents.
“The isolation the change in your entire life has brought additional stress and so people who were struggling with mental health conditions like depression saw it get worse and so people who have not experienced depression for example have struggled with depression,” said Rowan.
If you don’t have health insurance you can turn to Federally Qualified Health Centers or find a private therapist who works on a sliding scale. Amanda Mathias is a senior vice president for clinical policy and innovation at the Meadows Institute. Mathias tells ABC 7 News, that the collaboration will start in three health systems but may expand to those without coverage.
“The hope though is through the project which is slated for five years it will disseminate throughout the community because we know you will see the outcomes that you need so we hope those services will become available for others,” said Mathias.
As the new program comes together and begins to roll out in the next one to three months it’s folks in the community who need to help reverse a negative stigma about mental health in order for everything to come together and work to the benefit of those who need help and services.
The full article is available online here.