Empower Change:

The Paso del Norte Center for Mental Health and Emotional Well-being

Empower Change: The Paso del Norte Center for Mental and Emotional Well-being (Center) received a $1.1 million grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (Health Foundation) to serve as the backbone organization for the Health Foundation’s Mental Health and Emotional Well-being priority area.

The Center will promote collaboration among expert faculty and mental health professionals at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), New Mexico State University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, William Beaumont Army Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

It also will provide professional development opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

The Paso del Norte Center for Mental and Emotional Well-being

“The Center will lead and support this interdisciplinary cross-organizational effort to build the mental health infrastructure of the Paso del Norte region,” said UTEP Vice Provost John Wiebe, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “There’s a lot of great work happening in the community in mental health. We plan to leverage the resources of the area’s academic institutions and community partners to coordinate this work and develop a strategic plan for the future of mental health and emotional well-being in the region.”

Among the Center’s objectives, investigators plan to develop an expertise portal that can be used to search and identify mental health experts in the community. It also intends to create an interactive database of comprehensive mental health services, including substance abuse, community reintegration programs and affordable or free treatment services.

“The Health Foundation’s “Backbone Organization” grant to UTEP will leverage the team’s extensive technical expertise and professional networks to build upon existing community partnerships and support a collaborative approach to transforming behavioral health systems in the region,” said Tracy Yellen, Paso del Norte Health Foundation, Chief Executive Officer. “With UTEP’s leadership and support, we will continue the collaborative work necessary to decrease the negative bias associated with mental illness, take advantage of new funding sources made possible by the Texas legislature this past session, and achieve the goals that local leaders have developed to improve access to quality mental and behavioral health services in El Paso, southern New Mexico and Ciudad Juárez.”

Other priorities include developing a comprehensive workforce development plan to increase the number of mental health professionals specializing in behavioral and mental health in the region; establishing leadership councils to provide up-to-date advanced best practices and research; identifying funding sources and grant development opportunities to promote interdisciplinary mental health research; designing legislative policy recommendations to advance mental health services; and developing a communications and public relations infrastructure to educate stakeholders about mental health and emotional well-being.

For more information, contact Joshua Acevedo, MPA, MA, the organization’s program manager, UTEP Department of Psychology, 915-747-7707.

Photo provided by: UTEP Office of University Communications