The institute will serve as the hub for information and research related to all issues surrounding mental health.
Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) are collaborating to establish the Texas Tech Mental Health Institute (TTMHI), hiring former TTUHSC special assistant Keino McWhinney to serve as its director.
The TTMHI brings together mental health professionals both from academia and the medical profession to conduct research and intervention, develop portfolio and strategic planning priorities, lead efforts in collecting and disseminating mental health-related information and positively influence mental health policy.
“I am excited to return to West Texas and the Texas Tech University System,” McWhinney said. “In many ways, it feels like coming home. The new Texas Tech Mental Health Institute represents a unique opportunity for leveraging meaningful collaborative efforts in addressing mental health challenges in the region.”
McWhinney began his duties on Tuesday (May 1).
“We are pleased to welcome Keino back to the Texas Tech community and look forward to him leading the Texas Tech Mental Health Institute,” said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. “His extensive knowledge of the issues surrounding mental health and his previous work with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center makes him the perfect person to lead this institute, which will become the focus for mental health research and services in Texas.”
Prior to returning to Texas Tech, McWhinney served as the Community Wellness Supervisor for Population Health for CoxHealth, a five-hospital health system in Springfield, Missouri, that serves southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas.
McWhinney actually will be returning to the Texas Tech system. From 2009 to 2016, he served as a special assistant to the president of the TTUHSC. During that time, McWhinney spent from January to September of 2014 serving as the interim director of operations for the Garrison Institute on Aging at the TTUHSC.
The TTMHI will tackle the issues surrounding mental health in numerous ways:
- Research and intervention implementation: Bringing together researchers, deans and department heads from the four member institutions of the Texas Tech University System to implement a portfolio of mental health research and intervention projects to ensure effective collaboration with member participants as well as advocacy groups, health care providers and hospitals.
- Strategic planning and portfolio development: Providing strategic direction and identifying priorities related to mental health issues through research, patient care and other initiatives while identifying funding opportunities to facilitate that research.
- Communication and partnership development: Devising communication materials for presentation and publication for both internal and external use while establishing a working relationship with external and academic partners and serving as the primary contact for inquiries into mental health research and patient care.
- Policy analysis: Serving as an expert in mental health policies in order to not only identify areas of mental health research, but also have the ability to influence mental health policy and collaborate with various entities engaged in work that supports the institute.
“Keino brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position,” said Dr. Tedd Mitchell, president of the TTUHSC. “His strategic thinking and ability to work across multiple disciplines will be invaluable in this new focus on mental health, and we are happy to have him back in the Texas Tech family.”