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Mental health is essential to personal well-being and results in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to contribute to society, adapt to change and cope with challenges. Mental health also plays a major role in one’s ability to maintain good physical health.

Conversely, mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability, and the resulting disease burden of mental illness is among the highest of all diseases. Fortunately, in the last 20 years, research on the prevention of mental disorders has progressed significantly. We now know that mental, emotional and behavioral disorders are common and begin early in life, making our best opportunity for prevention in treating young people. Family and school-based interventions can improve social, emotional and academic outcomes.

Based on recent surveys, there are several indicators that mental health in the lower Rio Grande Valley is worse than state and national averages, especially in the areas of:

  • Those who self-report that their overall mental health is only “fair” or “poor,”
  • Those who struggle with chronic depression (two or more years of depression),
  • The low frequency of those who have sought help following a diagnosis of depression, and
  • The high frequency of “crisis care,” where an individual has to get so sick that they become a danger to themselves or others before receiving care.

The Legacy Foundation will consider funding proposals from organizations whose services are administered by licensed behavioral health providers and which address the screening and treatment of youth and adults through schools, primary care settings and in community based clinics.

One of the Legacy Foundation’s efforts to better understand and therefore more efficiently improve mental health in the Rio Grande Valley was to fund a study of the capacity and performance of behavioral health systems in the Valley. The study was performed by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

A summary of the findings and implications of the study can be found here.

The full report and further information on the uses of the study and the Meadows Mental Health Police Institute can be found here.