Summit focuses on improving mental health services in El Paso

Borderland leaders prepare for Behavioral Health Conference

One in five adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness in a given, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That translates to more than 43 million people who may or may not seek help.

On Thursday, community leaders, residents and health professionals will gather for the 4th annual El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium Summit.  

The event is sponsored by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

"It's really an exciting effort that's happening in the community where you have a diversity of ways of thinking, of solutions for addressing mental and emotional well being, " said Eden Hernandez, director of Empower Change with the Paso Del Norte Center for Mental and Emotional Well-being at UTEP.

The meeting's goal is to enhance the county's behavioral health system by sharing data that will lead to informed and coordinated actions.

"Some of the needs that we've identified include looking at ways that we can collaborate together to bring in funding and start looking at ways to make the programs sustainable for El Pasoans," Hernandez said.

There will be panel discussions and video presentations.      

The summit's keynote speaker is Adrienne Kennedy, board president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Kennedy is a longtime educator, researcher and administrator whose family has experienced mental health issues.

She is also a commissioner on the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health, appointed for a three-year term in April 2018 by the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. 

"It's one of the last areas in the medical frontiers that is now getting addressed. We are learning more about brain science, brain health and how its integrated into all aspects of personal health," Kennedy said.

Kennedy will talk about the importance of having an accessible network of agencies to help those who need mental health and addiction services.

The summit will take place Thursday at the Don Haskins Center from 8 a.m. to noon.

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