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The PSP and FMH Foundation Fund Permian Basin Expansion of West Texas Counseling Program
$3.03 million investment will expand mental health services in the region

MIDLAND, TX – The Permian Strategic Partnership (PSP), FMH Foundation and West Texas Counseling & Guidance (WTCG) have announced a partnership to establish Permian Basin Counseling & Guidance (PBCG), an extension of WTCG, to expand mental health services across the Permian Basin. The PSP is providing $2,267,446 in funding support for the program with a focus on Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico. An additional $770,805 in dedicated funding from the Midland-based FMH Foundation will provide mental health services to residents of Howard County, and through the combined efforts with the PSP, expand access to telehealth services to the rural Permian Basin counties of West Texas.

There is a dire shortage of mental health providers and access to treatment in the Permian Basin. The average wait to receive mental health treatment in the region is eight months to a year, and fallout from COVID-19 and related job losses has only increased the immediate need for prompt access to mental health services, said Tracee Bentley, CEO of the PSP. This partnership with the FMH Foundation and WTCG is not only expanding access to mental health care, especially in our rural counties, but it is also building a pipeline of home-grown providers who will be more likely to stay in Permian Basin and serve our communities.

Over the course of the six-year funding commitment, PBCG will expand its recruiting efforts and enhance the development of behavioral health professionals in rural areas and in regions experiencing a shortage of providers. Providers will be able to serve patients in both a face-to-face setting, as well as through telecounseling. The goal for the program is to become self-sustaining at the end of the six-year term, with a robust client base and continued support through fundraising and grant applications.

Our mission at West Texas Counseling & Guidance is to offer hope and healing to communities across the region. This partnership with FMH and the PSP allows us to further this mission into the Permian Basin and make a direct, immediate impact on patient care while building a stronger mental health services network for years to come, said Dusty McCoy, Executive Director of WTCG.

The FMH Foundation’s new partnership with the PSP and West Texas Counseling & Guidance will have a tremendous impact on the Permian Basin. We have worked closely with WTCG for several years to provide mental health services as well as comprehensive Veterans Services for residents in some of the rural counties in the Permian Basin, said Eileen Piwetz, Executive Director of FMH Foundation. This new, powerful strategic initiative allows WTCG to expand its base to Big Spring as well as to additional rural West Texas counties, thereby enhancing the quality of life by increasing access to mental health professionals providing exceptional counseling services.

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Community Need
In Southeast New Mexico, the closest facility for observational treatment is hours away. Suicide rates in the area are more than 50 percent higher than the U.S. average, and 54.4 percent of adults with mental illness in New Mexico do not receive treatment.

Recent data from a community assessment in Howard County revealed that 27 percent of the population over the age of 65 is uninsured, with the general population reporting having a higher than national and state average of poor mental health days per month.

Building a Sustainable Pipeline
A lack of behavioral health providers in the region has serious downstream impacts; there are currently not enough internship placements for Masters degree students at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, NM, forcing students to leave the region to complete their education and training, therefore making it less likely that they will return to build their practice in the basin.

Replicating a model WTCG has implemented with Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX, this project has opened the door for PBCG to execute a partnership with University of the Southwest to establish relationships and recruit from its students, increasing the number of local internships available and building a pipeline of counselors to organically sustain the initiative.

More information and to schedule an appointment at one of the program locations, visit the Permian Basin Counseling & Guidance website.