Peace of Mind Conference set May 21 in Amarillo

Mental, behavioral health awareness on the agenda

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contacts: Dr. Angela Burkham, 806-677-5600, angela.burkham@ag.tamu.edu
Shree Veeramachaneni, 806-350-5277, shree@panhandlebehavioralhealthalliance.org

AMARILLO — A “Peace of Mind” Conference will be hosted May 21 by the Panhandle Behavioral Health Alliance, or PBHA, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo.

The event will be from 4-6 p.m. There is no cost, but advanced registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/PeaceofMindAmarillo.

“The need for addressing mental health is great, as that need continues to be an issue identified locally and by elected officials,” said Dr. Angela Burkham, AgriLife Extension state and North Region program leader for family and community health based in Amarillo.

“While our AgriLife agents are not counselors or physicians, they do have connections within the community as well as a base of trust, and they can help with the education to bring awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health or behavioral health issues,” Burkham said.

The overall goal of the conference is to reduce that stigma so prevention and early intervention practices will be embraced, she said.

The conference will feature a video message from state Rep. Four Price, Amarillo; a special guest keynote by Terry Bentley Hill addressing suicide; and a panel of experts to answer questions and start a conversation regarding substance abuse and mental and behavioral health.

Hill, a nationally recognized mental health advocate and criminal defense attorney in Dallas, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas A&M University School of Law.

Her focus on mental health issues occurred after the suicides of her first husband and 14-year-old daughter. As a result, her mission is to help others suffering from mental health diseases by sharing her story of pain and healing.

She was named by her peers as one of Dallas’ Best Criminal Defense Attorneys for Mental Health representation, and she was awarded the Presidential Citation by the State Bar of Texas for her work with attorneys struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.

Attendees will discover local informational resources for behavioral health; connect with peers, community members and leaders; and collaborate with behavioral health partners, including those for mental health and addiction.

There also will be an art exhibit by local artists with experiences in these areas. The exhibit is designed to raise awareness about behavioral health issues and available resources.

“We want to encourage the community to seek resources and treatment in a preventive manner or at early stages, and to educate the community about behavioral health,” said Sridevi Veeramachaneni, PBHA executive director.

To learn more about PBHA, go to www.PanhandleBehavioralHealthAlliance.org.

Burkham also said AgriLife Extension identified mental health education as a priority in 2019. As a result, the agency is designing a suite of programs that can be delivered in local communities starting in 2020.

The programs, she said, will focus on mindfulness, behavioral health signs and symptoms, awareness of community-based resources and equipping communities with the appropriate response to mental health educational needs.

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