Michael Hutchins Sherman Herald Democrat USA TODAY NETWORK
Area law enforcement, educators, licensed counselors and representatives from dozens of community groups came Wednesday to shine a light on the topic of mental illness and the needs in the community.
This week, the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team hosted the sixth annual behavioral health conference, a yearly update on the status of mental health resources across the region with speakers from different fields talking about the shared goal of providing for the region’s mental health needs.
“We are strengthening the community around mental health issues in Grayson County,” TBHLT Executive Director Tim Millerick said Wednesday. “All kinds of different people in a variety of roles, from licensed counselors to school staff and counselors to private practitioners and hospital settings come around these issues.”
This year’s conference marks the first time the event has been held in person since 2020. For last year’s conference, organizers held a virtual event, which was streamed online.
“This is our sixth one, and we are just thrilled that you are here,” TBHLT Chairman Larry Phillips said. “We had a successful virtual event last year, but we’re in person, and it’s good to be in person and see everyone this year.”
Phillips dedicated the event to his mother, who worked as a licensed counselor and pushed for Licensed Professional Counselor Legislation. For this, she was given the privilege of having license no. 00002; a friend who also helped with the legislation was given the first license.
“She’s my hero, and she’s the one that lets me know that nurturing capacity because that’s what she’s all about,” he said. “That’s why she did this: to help nurture those kids through action and collaboration. They didn’t get this done by themselves; It was great teamwork. So, I just want to dedicate this…conference to my mom.”
This year’s speakers included mental health professionals speaking on a range of topics from the needs of youth and students to the relationship between ministry and mental health services.
The theme for this year’s event was nurturing capacity through action and collaboration. While there is collaboration between the various stakeholders, Millerick said that the region’s need for services still outweighs its supply.
“There’s not enough to go around at this moment,” he said. There’s not enough people trained in the right places in that systemic practices to help everyone the way we want to help everyone.”
The need for capacity was highlighted in another recurring topic during Wednesday’s conference: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The past years have highlighted a growing need for resources.
“We needed to have greater capacity before COVID,” he said. “We knew we were short. You can stop any one of these professionals in the hallway and they will tell you we are short in some way. Everybody’s trying to catch up and COVID dealt a huge blow to that.”