EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has awarded Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Department of Psychiatry $48,125 to extend a program providing mental health care to youth in rural communities across West Texas.

The funds come from the health insurer’s 2022 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative and will be used for TTUHSC El Paso’s Rural Telepsych for Youth program. Rural Telepsych for Youth was launched in February 2022 with a $40,000 Healthy Kids, Health Families grant. The new grant will extend the program through June 2023. In 2019, the Caring Foundation of Texas, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas as the lead sponsor, donated the full-time, exclusive use of a Care Van mobile health unit to TTUHSC El Paso.

The Care Van is being used to deliver preventative health care services and health education to rural residents by the Foster School of Medicine’s Mobile Medical Student Run Clinic, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine’s Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, and other departments within the university. The Caring Foundation of Texas pays all costs associated with the Care Van’s use, including insurance, maintenance, tolls and gas.

Accessing mental health care in rural communities is very challenging for young patients because resources are limited and can be located many hours away. Texas ranks 50th in the nation for mental health workforce availability. Studies show that the mental health workforce shortage affects more people than primary care and dental workforce shortages combined. Additionally, only 27% of mental health is being met in Health Professional Shortage Areas.

TTUHSC El Paso serves as the West Texas hub for TCHATT and CPAN. Both programs focus on providing rapid access to mental health services for West Texas families. TCHATT reaches 36 West Texas school districts in a vast geographic region that’s home to approximately 200,000 children, while CPAN is responsible for a 16-county network along the Texas-Mexico border from El Paso to Eagle Pass. You can learn more about the programs at elpaso.ttuhsc.edu/youthmentalhealth.

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