Texas Family Voice Network headlines first meeting of Texas HHSC’s Behavioral Health Equity Series

Staff from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission teamed up with the Texas Family Voice Network to create a panel discussion about the inclusion of family advocates in state decisions for the first installment in the HHSC’s Behavioral Health All-Staff Equity Series.

Pictured left to right:
Veronica Martinez (Manager, Texas Mental Health Services Unit)
Verlyn Johnson (TxFVN)
Courtney Seals (Director of Mental Health Programs, Planning, and Policy)
Lisa Ramirez (Director of State Opioid Response)
Rishi Sawhney (Behavioral Health Medical Director)
Trina Ita (Associate Commissioner of Behavioral Health Services)
Stephany Bryan (TxFVN)
Sheila Craig (Director of Substance Use Disorders, Children’s Mental Health and Prevention Services)
Barbara Granger (TxFVN)
Noah Abdenour (Peer Services Director)
Donna Fagan (TxFVN)
Julie Bourne (TxFVN) – participating remotely

Advocates from the Texas Family Voice Network (TxFVN) gathered for a panel presentation on January 16 to inform Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) staff about the significance of including families in all state initiatives — from planning, to implementation, to evaluation.

The panel — which was comprised of Barbara Granger, Donna Fagan, Julie Bourne, Verlyn Johnson, and Stephany Bryan — marked the first in a series focused on behavioral health equity within the Texas HHSC.

The family leaders shared very personal, sometimes painful, stories of what brought them to the TxFVN , and highlighted the life-saving role advocacy and peer support has played in their lives.

“My proudest moment in my work is being chosen to be a parent of a child with mental health conditions,” said TxFVN State Co-Lead Barbara Granger. “I tell her, ‘Thank you for the gift of my job.’”

The event concluded with a brainstorming session between the panelists and Texas HHSC staff to come up with potential ways to effectively integrate family voices into state systems.

“(Change) is not just about the systems, but it can start with systems talking to systems,” said family leader and Senior Program Officer and Consumer and Family Liaison for the Hogg Foundation Stephany Bryan. “Having systems work together eases the burden of a behavioral health diagnosis for everybody involved.”

For more coverage, follow the hashtag #TexasBHES on Twitter.

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