Hogg Foundation Gives $1.1 Million to East Texas Mental Health Coalition

The East Texas Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (ETCMHR) has only been around since 2010, but it's making a big impact in a historically underserved region of the country. The coalition previously included five mental health organizations in east Texas, but a recent $1.1 million grant from the Hogg Foundation enables the addition of six more. Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation, called the coalition an "exciting and innovative grant program," saying it focuses on "consumer and family involvement."

ETCMHR provides a wide range of services both to mental health-care providers and to the community. These include quarterly meetings, peer specialist training and certification, educational opportunities, information sharing, Wellness Recovery Action Planning certification, and participation in Alternatives, a national mental health conference organized by and for consumers.

East Texas is a massive region of the country bounded on the north and east by Oklahoma and Louisiana, respectively, and on the south by Galveston Bay. According to the Rural East Texas Health Network, many of the counties in the region (and all 12 in the especially rural "Deep" East Texas region) are classified as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in the area of mental health by the Department of Health and Human Service's Health Resources and Services Administration.

Patients in these regions face a dearth of facilities, long drives to treatment centers, and delays in finding treatment due to waiting lists. In addition, the East Texas region suffers from a lack of inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities, a crucial step in the treatment of many of the most severe mental health disorders.

Coalitions like the ETCMHR provide a crucial method of facilitating communication between the few facilities operating in the region. They can prevent patients from slipping through the cracks by ensuring they're passed successfully from one center to another — even if that center is hours away.

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Heath focuses on Texas, but considering the size of that state, it has plenty of opportunities to do good. Hogg aims to improve the availability, delivery, and effectiveness of mental health services throughout Texas, and rural health care is an integral part of that mission.