Click "Play" to hear more, including the Mayor’s call to action for our city.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has guided our city through tremendous growth since he was elected in 2011. Dallas currently ranks No. 4 in the country based on its number of Fortune 500 headquarters, and The U.S. Census Bureau reported that we were the No. 1 Largest-Gaining Metropolitan Area in 2016-2017. Topping these lists is something to be proud of, but Mayor Rawlings is rightly pushing for progress when it comes to our city’s physical and mental health.

“Health care by its nature is complicated, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to addressing mental health,” said Mayor Rawlings. “This issue cuts across all demographics and socioeconomic statuses, and supporting all our citizens with access to quality mental health services is something that’s core to our success as a city.”

With a booming business ecosystem, Mayor Rawlings believes that Dallas can emerge as a leader in corporate practice for mental health support. “Strategic collaboration with thought leaders outside the corporate world is essential in making broad progress to support employees in Dallas,” he said. “Our city’s C-suite certainly recognizes the need, but I encourage them to leverage expertise outside their immediate circles.”

“This issue cuts across all demographics and socioeconomic statuses, and supporting all our citizens with access to quality mental health services is something that’s core to our success as a city.”

Mayor Mike Rawlings

The Mayor has championed an increase in mental health services in southern Dallas County through Neighbor Up, an independent collective nonprofit that was convened to accelerate his GrowSouth initiative. “We are creating an integrated health center in southern Dallas,” he said. “I’m calling for our city to support this initiative, and for our mental health practitioners to increase focus on the underserved citizens of Dallas.”

Attention continues to grow around the importance of mental health care for police officers and first responders, who encounter an extraordinary amount of stress in their daily jobs. “I think that conversation really began after the tragic deaths of five police officers during the shooting on July 7, 2016,” said Mayor Rawlings. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. I know we’re going to be a safer city when our first responders are properly treated.”

Addressing mental health for a major metropolitan area is a moving target. Our best approach will continue to evolve as we learn more about the brain, but the Mayor believes the path forward focuses on three areas. “Deepening our understanding of the human brain and its complexities is critical, and we need the funding to be able to reach those answers – both from the state and philanthropic dollars,” said Mayor Rawlings. “Beyond science, we also need to change culturally. We must be open, honest, and supportive of each other when it comes to discussing mental health. That collective mindset shift will make our progress sustainable for future generations.”

Click to enlarge for an early rendering of the center. Image courtesy of Christie Myers, general manager of Neighbor Up.

In the Education Corridor, a southern Dallas region bound geographically on the west by the University of North Texas at Dallas and on the east Paul Quinn College, the GrowSouth initiative is building hope. A collaboration with nearly 30 partners envisions an integrated health center adjacent to DART’s Blue Line. The center would include primary health care, mental and behavioral services, educational training for nearby colleges and Dallas ISD, and a jail diversion program. 

Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has also been a major supporter of this effort and acted in an advisory role as the center defines how it defines its measures for success.

Click here to read more about this critical initiative, and why it matters for our city.


Check out the rest of our Leading the Conversation on Mental Health series:

Building Courage in Our Community
featuring Julie Hersh, Co-Founder and President, Hersh Foundation
Investing in Mental Health for All Texans
featuring Bruce Esterline, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Grants, The Meadows Foundation
Solving the Mysteries of the Brain
featuring Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, Director, Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care,
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Breaking the Cycle – What Does It Take?
featuring David Brown, ABC Consultant, Former Dallas Police Chief
Springing Hope from Credible Research
featuring Andy Keller, PhD, President and CEO, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
What is Our Community Doing to Address Mental Health Issues – An Introduction