Meet the Team: Alycia Welch, Program Administrator
As many of you already know, I am the Program Administrator for the South Southwest MHTTC, an initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to provide free training and ongoing consultation to the diverse array of professionals that serve individuals with mental health challenges across our five-state region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, and several tribal communities. We are a project of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, housed in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin
I joined the TIEMH team earlier this year and have been incredibly impressed by my colleagues’ dedication to improving mental healthcare across the region. My previous experience focused on improving recovery outcomes among individuals with substance use and mental health challenges who were involved with the criminal and juvenile justice systems. This year, I drew on my experience to help expand our network. I served as a resource to members of the Texas Legislature, advocates and other stakeholders to inform bills that were moving through the legislative process during the legislative session. I also explored ways in which the SSW MHTTC could serve as a resource to support other efforts aimed at reducing the number of individuals with behavioral health challenges involved with the justice systems. I attended events, including the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health’s Critical Points Round Table, which brought together individuals with lived experience and those working closely with individuals with lived experience, to identify ways to connect individuals in the justice system with behavioral health challenges to community-based resources.
The Year in Review
This year launched SAMHSA’s MHTTC initiative across the country, and TIEMH’s co-directors, Molly Lopez and Stacey Manser, and I have worked closely with MHTTCs in other regions to design the implementation of the initiative. Molly, Stacey, and I worked together to develop and oversee a strategic planning process for the South Southwest MHTTC through which we established processes to be able to effectively and efficiently respond to training and consultation requests from a large and diverse region. I also worked hard to meet as many state agency administrators, providers, peers, and other key stakeholders as I could across the region to introduce the South Southwest MHTTC and to identify trainings and opportunities for consultation that could help address workforce needs in their area.
Because we are a diverse region occupying the longest area of the southern border of any other region in the country, I spent a substantial amount of my time ensuring the South Southwest MHTTC is able to provide trainings and consultation services that are culturally responsive and adaptable to the unique needs of the diverse communities across our region, with a special focus on Hispanic and/or Latino communities. I worked closely with the National Hispanic Latino Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, housed at the Universidad Central del Caribe in Puerto Rico, whose staff invited me to several key events planned in our region. Each of our coordinators were trained on the Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards, and in turn, we delivered our own trainings on this topic, including at the Summer Prevention Institute in San Antonio.
I also organized a webcast, “Broken Borders: Responding to Trauma in Hispanic and Latino Immigrants and Refugees,” featuring our very own Luis H. Zayas (PhD), Dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, and two expert practitioners based in Austin, Marisol Acosta (M.Ed., LPC-S), Director of Clinical Services at Any Baby Can, and Gabriela Hurtado (PhD), co-owner of Prickly Pear Therapy & Training. Together, they identified the impact of the trauma Hispanic and/or Latino individuals and families experience when they enter our country and discussed strategies for assessing and intervening that promote positive mental health outcomes. If you missed it, the recording is available on our website for viewing!
Our friends and colleagues at the South Southwest Addiction Transfer Technology Center (SSW ATTC), now celebrating its 25th year of operations, were instrumental in helping us expand our network across the region. In April, we co-organized a joint regional advisory board meeting and invited behavioral health experts from the five states and tribal communities in our region, including our colleagues at the South Southwest Prevention Technology Transfer Center (SSWPTTC), to identify the needs of the behavioral health workforce and the ways that the TTCs could address those needs. We shared the latest research behind recovery from substance use challenges and addiction through a joint presentation by Tom Hill (MSW), vice president of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Behavioral Health, and John Kelly, who is the Elizabeth R. Spalling Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Field of Addiction Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, director of Recovery Research Institute, and associate director at the Center for Addiction Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
We’re proud to feature in this inaugural newsletter our accomplishments from our first year, which so many of you helped to make successful!
Next year, I look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners across the region to expand and enhance the behavioral health workforce, and we will continue to serve as a resource to peer providers looking to expand peer support services across the region. Over the next year, the South Southwest MHTTC plans to offer trainings and consultation on:
- School-Based Mental Health Services
- Suicide Prevention
- First Episode Psychosis
- Early Childhood Interventions
- Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Youth
- Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue
- Cultural and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards
- Trauma Related to the Immigration Experience
- Responding to Communities that Have Experienced Mass Violence
- The Justice System’s Response to Individuals with Mental Health Challenges
Please contact us with any questions or if you would like to talk more about specific needs in your area. We are always excited about the opportunity to expand our network! I look forward to working with you next year in our joint effort to improve the mental health of our community.