AUSTIN, Texas—The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR) have formed the Center for Excellence in Mental Health to collaborate on research and development devoted to improving the quality of mental health services and systems in Texas.
The center is a unique partnership designed to conduct and disseminate scientific research, design service models, and conduct public and professional educational outreach for the purpose of connecting the best in research, service design and systems analysis to policy decisions and service delivery.
“This partnership promises a number of exciting opportunities for improving knowledge about the best ways to treat mental illnesses and to structure services,” said Dr. King Davis, executive director of the Hogg Foundation. “Drawing upon the expertise, resources and energy of both the agency and foundation has the potential for dramatically improving the treatment and services available to Texans who have a mental illness.”
“The new center offers an exciting opportunity for public-academic collaboration that can serve to design and disseminate better service delivery models that will improve the quality of mental health care for the citizens of Texas,” said Steve Shon, M.D., medical director of TDMHMR.
Located within the Hogg Foundation at The University of Texas at Austin, the center will be organized into seven primary activities:
- Public Policy Analysis and Development. The center will help inform policymakers in the design of mental health systems and the allocation of state resources by developing and analyzing reports, research studies and policy initiatives focused upon mental health needs and opportunities across the state.
- Public Information and Education. The center will seek to improve public understanding of the causes and treatment of mental illnesses by developing a number of public information and outreach efforts to reduce stigma and encourage access to services.
- Research and Evaluation. The center will conduct and/or fund research evaluations of various service models/systems to determine their effectiveness and applicability to the state of Texas and to improve both public and academic knowledge about the best ways to treat mental illness and deliver services.
- Knowledge Development and Dissemination. The center will seek to incorporate evidence-based research into clinical services by developing and disseminating practice models and tools to help service providers improve treatment, reduce disparities and promote recovery among their clients.
- Training and Technical Assistance. The center will provide training and technical assistance through a variety of channels (for example, forums, teleconferences, Web-based trainings, etc.) to help mental health service providers gain the necessary skills and competencies to deliver evidence-based practices.
- Systems Design. The center will develop new system delivery models in order to update current systems of mental health care into newer, more effective designs that take advantage of the latest advances in evidence-based services.
- Organizational Collaboration. The center will develop a number of collaborative relationships with public and private organizations that focus upon substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, health disparities, ethics, communication and physical disabilities.
One possible example of the center’s impact could be an independent evaluation of the Department of Mental Health Services’ new design of mental health service benefits and the financing methodology for community mental health services across the state. Enacted by the Texas Legislature during its last session, the benefit design will employ a disease management approach to mental health care delivery that proactively identifies populations with chronic conditions, emphasizes prevention of acute relapse and complications, uses evidence-based practice guidelines and relies on patient empowerment strategies.
Officials with TDMHMR and the Hogg Foundation are in discussion about a potential contract to conduct an evaluation of the clinical and financial effects, as well as the cost-effectiveness, of benefit design changes versus the previous design of service systems.
“Evaluating the results of Texas’ renovation of the design and financing of mental health services could be both informative and useful to policymakers, stakeholders and the mental health community in both the state andcountry,” said Davis. “It would certainly be in accordance with what we hope to achieve through the Center for Excellence in Mental Health.”
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is an administrative unit of The University of Texas at Austin established by the children of former Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg. For more than 60 years, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has managed both operating programs and grant-making activities in support of mental health service and research projects in Texas.
TDMHMR is the state agency entrusted to improve the quality and efficiency of public and private services and supports for Texans with mental illnesses and with mental retardation so that they can increase their opportunities and abilities to lead lives of dignity and independence.