The Counseling Center and the Department of Health and Human Performance at Texas A&M University-Commerce are partnering to host a free rural mental health forum at Fletcher Warren Civic Center in Greenville, Texas, on March 21.
Dr. Nick Patras, executive director of the Counseling Center and Student Health Services at A&M-Commerce, said the event will provide space for community members, city and county officials, law enforcement officials, K-12 school administrators, agency employees, and community organizers to discuss multiple issues regarding rural mental health.
“We will explore the intersection of mental health needs in rural Northeast Texas and opportunities for A&M-Commerce to leverage its resources to address those needs,” Patras said. “Our goal is to create a coalition of regional partners to identify challenges and seek solutions.”
Breakfast and registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a welcome address at 9 a.m. The keynote address will begin at 9:15 a.m., where Taylor Toynes, chief executive officer for the non-profit group ForOakCliff.org, will highlight the power of community organization.
Following the keynote, attendees will hear from a panel of subject experts who will discuss mental health concerns in rural communities.
Attendees will then participate in tabletop discussions to identify mental health needs and service demands from their unique perspectives. Each table will include a diverse range of individuals representing various stakeholder groups.
The forum will conclude at 3:30 p.m., after participants establish an action list and form a coalition to address the top mental health challenges facing Northeast Texas.
The inaugural rural mental health forum planning committee includes Shirley Weddle, charter president and co-founder of the Suicide Prevention and Brain Health Rotary eClub; Dr. Tony Dickensheets with Soldiers' Angels; Amy Burton with Red River Valley Veterans Memorial; along with A&M-Commerce personnel Patras; Dr. Elizabeth Wachira, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance; and Adam Metts, LPC-S, assistant director of training and supervision for the Counseling Center.
“As a regional center for mental health services and research, A&M-Commerce is committed to expanding its outreach to meet our community's health needs,” said A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin. “This forum will help us plan the path forward on this important journey.”