TTUHSC El Paso Professor Selected for Local Mental Health Board

The El Paso Commissioners Court has appointed Peter Thompson, M.D., to serve on the Emergence Health Network (EHN) board of trustees. Thepeter_thompson2 selection fills a holdover position, but will allow Dr. Thompson to serve until the end of December 2017. Normally, the term for these positions is two years.

The EHN is El Paso’s community-based center for mental health and mental retardation. The center is at the forefront of improving all aspects of mental health throughout El Paso County, including recovery, treatment and diagnosis. It operates as the local Mental Health Authority and is governed by a board of seven electees, of whom Dr. Thompson is now one.

A native of San Antonio, Dr. Thompson specializes in brain disorders and runs the Southwestern Brain Bank (SWBB) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). His expertise and experience made him an easy choice for nomination by TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A.

His term begins immediately with monthly meetings. Dr. Thompson, who has conducted research across a wide spectrum of mental health conditions, will be tapped to help the development and direction of mental health care in El Paso County, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that those who need it receive the best care possible.

This opportunity is a first for Dr. Thompson and he looks forward to achieving growth in both the care and understanding of mental health. In his appointment, one of Dr. Thompson’s hopes is to help the city and surrounding region bridge the gap in understanding of mental health issues.

“’What will my family think?’” Dr. Thompson quotes. “There is such a negative stigma associated with mental health that often when I recommend treatment or hospitalization to a patient, this is the first thought that goes through their mind.” Working with EHN to reduce mental illness stigma will be one of Dr. Thompson’s focuses.

Another area of focus will be to expand the number of mental health care providers in the region. El Paso is underserved in all areas of health care, but the number of mental health care providers are well below the national average. Using the resources of both TTUHSC El Paso and the EHN, Dr. Thompson’s goal is to attract more mental health care providers to the region.

This appointment could also benefit research at the SWBB. Longitudinal studies, studies conducted over many years and even decades, are facilitated by the volunteers that donate their brains to the SWBB in the hopes that research may one day reveal the true nature or origin of brain disorders. This position on the EHN board will introduce Dr. Thompson to a larger pool of patients, and he hopes that educating patients on what the SWBB does will encourage more to donate and participate.