Tedd Mitchell

1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health problem, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

But it is an issue that often goes unchecked due to stigma and lack of access to care. 

"Never before have so many big partners in our community come together to address mental health," C.E.O of StarCare Beth Lawson said.

On Monday, the West Texas Mental Health Collaborative made its debut at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. Its task, to address mental health needs in the South Plains as a team facing the challenge of treating problems you often cannot where some don't have easy access to health care.

"Something that people don't like talking about anyway, it makes it that much more difficult to get folks the resources they need," TTU Chancellor Tedd Mitchell said.

The collaboration involves the Texas Tech Mental Health Initiative with the Health Sciences Center,  StarCare, UMC, Covenant Health as well as the city and county of Lubbock.

Their focus now is the Meadows report, a comprehensive assessment completed in late 2019 in Lubbock and 4 surrounding counties. 

"The Meadows talked to over 200 people that were in our community across multiple sectors. And some of the great things that they found about our community was that we had a lot of collaborative efforts already going. But we needed some coordination," Nancy Trevino, director of the Mental Health Initiative, said.

"The beauty of having a partnership like this, is that we can each focus on our own area of expertise, we each have an area of specialization and it's really important that we not duplicate care but that we align care with one another," Lawson explained.

Another major finding in the report, the problematic separation between mental and physical health treatment. 

"The brain is part of the body, just like the leg, the heart or the kidney," Lawson said.

"We would like to be a part of developing a model that is created right here at the HSC where we integrate caring for the mind and body together," President of TTUHSC Dr. Lori Rice Spearman said.

That is not the only hope of the new president. Rice-Spearman says she expects this initiative to become an institute and permanent part of the College of Health Sciences.

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