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Mental Health

$20 Million Gift Creates Mental Health Policy Center In Houston

Insights from its work in the mental health community will inform state policy

Davis Land
Dr. Andy Keller, Dr. Michelle Harper, and Dr. Seema Shah answer questions regarding a Meadows Mental Health Institute report detailing the mental health needs of Harris County children on October 30, 2017.

A $20 million gift from two Houston philanthropists — Maureen and Jim Hackett — will create The Hackett Center for Mental Health, a project meant to strengthen access to mental health care for patients in the Houston region.

The center will be a part of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which operates statewide. The new center, to be located in the Texas Medical Center, will focus specifically on the region surrounding Houston, according to a press release.

"It's transformative in the sense that's it's our first program that's dedicated to a specific region and that is entirely about making that region work well," Andy Keller, chief executive at Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, told Houston Public Media.

A recent report from the institute, funded by Houston Endowment, recommends primary care providers move from referring patients to mental health specialists to an “integrated care” model, where mental health care is provided alongside traditional medicine. The Hackett Center for Mental Health, administrators say, will work towards that model.

"I really think and have felt and believed for some time that integrated care is the only way to treat health,” said Susan Fordice, director of the new center. “For so long we have really detached the head from the body, and the only thing that makes sense is to reattach the head to the body when it comes to our health," she said.

Fordice said the center will partner with other organizations in Houston and bring together insights from its work in the mental health community to inform state policy.


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