Officials with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Thursday announced the launch of the Paso del Norte Center at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a regional mental health policy center that will provide policy and program guidance for regional initiatives and advance mental health awareness efforts in the Paso del Norte region.
The Paso del Norte Center, which will be part of the Meadows Institute, was established by a $1.5 million grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. It will build upon the numerous improvements made to the region’s mental health care systems over the past several years.
Enrique Mata, a public health nurse and former senior program officer with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, was named founding Executive Director.
“The Paso del Norte Health Foundation was integral to the formation of the Meadows Institute and an early leader in recognizing the need for better mental health care in the region, and has been a dedicated, driving force in taking the steps necessary for significant improvement to happen,” said Andy Keller, President and CEO of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.
“It is an honor to be a part of this ongoing effort to address the needs unique to El Paso and the wider Paso del Norte region.”
In addition to conducting community assessments in 2014, 2017, and an update completed earlier this year, the Meadows Institute has worked on projects with Texas Tech University Health Science Center-El Paso, Emergence Health Network, El Paso Child Guidance Center, El Paso Center for Children, the El Paso Police Department, El Paso County, and other local organizations and stakeholders.
“The El Paso community has made significant strides since we first worked with the Meadows Institute to develop an in-depth assessment of the region’s mental health care capabilities in 2014,” said Tracy J. Yellen, CEO of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation. “This exciting new venture will integrate all of these previous efforts in an unprecedented way and help guide mental and behavioral health care development, transforming the way behavioral health is understood, evaluated, and improved in Paso del Norte.”
The Paso del Norte Center’s initial focus will be on technical and awareness support roles to further Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s mental health and emotional well-being initiatives, including Think.Change, The El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium, and other regional Consortia.
“The El Paso region has unique challenges when it comes to mental health care, but it also has many opportunities for improvement,” said Sharon Butterworth, mental health advocate, Board Member of the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and a member of the Meadows Institute Board of Directors. “The establishment of a permanent center gives us the capability to tailor policies and treatment options to meet the specific needs of the people who call the Paso del Norte region home. This is a great day for the El Paso community.”
The Paso del Norte Center will have a primary initial focus on El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas. The Center plans to later expand into Dona Ana, Luna, and Otero counties in Southern New Mexico; and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Center will also work to inform policy and practice for other surrounding communities.
The Meadows Institute’s team of mental health policy and implementation experts will engage regularly with regional consortia members to plan and implement best practices for the improvement of regional mental health and emotional well-being, improving health care systems that serve children, youth, and adults in the Paso del Norte Region.
“This is a game-changing investment in a healthier, stronger future for our friends, families, and communities, and represents a huge step forward for mental and behavioral health care in the region,” said Enrique Mata, Executive Director. “The Paso del Norte Center will be a true community partnership that brings multiple stakeholders together in a focused, regional approach to mental health care that will mean more awareness, earlier interventions, and better outcomes.”
Tracy J. Yellen and Andy Keller will host a Facebook Live discussion about the new center at noon on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.