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January 22, 2008

Diane Pavey, Director Communications and Public Relations
St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities
832.355.6333  [email protected]

Methodist and Episcopal Partnership Establishes Fellowship to Address Mental Health for Children and Families

(Houston, TX) – Mental health continues to be identified as a vital concern to Houston’s most underserved communities. National statistics indicate that mental health issues affect one in five children, and only 25% of those children receive care. Minority and high-poverty populations are disproportionately challenged by these concerns.

A unique faith-based partnership among The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities has been established to engage a “Scholar in Residence” to lead a two-year, sustainable program for the delivery of mental health services for children and families in an underserved Houston community. An Executive Committee, comprised of representatives from the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities will oversee the fellowship program. The scholar will be housed in the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities’ Center of Excellence in Community-Based Research.

The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities have committed $700,000 to fund the two-year initiative. Additional resources will be sought for this unique, faith-based model.

“We are delighted to introduce this ecumenical model for collaborative research that has the potential to bring great benefit to both the researcher and the community, “said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of the United Methodist Church. “Ultimately, Houston children and families of all faiths will benefit from the mental health prevention and early intervention strategies developed,” she concluded.

The researcher will move beyond the traditional boundaries of medical research, into the community, where health happens. Specific areas of family mental health research, as well as the designated Houston community, will be influenced by the final selection of the Scholar in Residence, expected in early May. The fellowship timeline is expected to range from September 2008 through August 2010.

“Community members can be assured that representatives will be engaged early in the process and that interventions will be community owned and driven, to help bring about sustainable improvements for children and families for years to come,” said Bishop Dena Harrison of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. “Our intent is not to limit this program to two years, but to sustain and replicate it,” she said.

The impact of this research will reach beyond the targeted community and beyond Houston. The Scholar in Residence is expected to describe, analyze and develop support for any necessary governmental and institutional policy changes regarding child and family mental health.

“Our community and other communities will benefit in perpetuity from the scholarly expertise since one outcome will be policy related,” said Patricia Gail Bray, Ph.D., executive director of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities. “This aspect alone will yield exceptional returns for our community’s public health agenda,” she concluded.

More information about the Scholar in Residence program including directions on how to apply is available online at


St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, the largest Houston charity devoted solely to healthcare, was created in 1997 as a separate component of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System. St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities melds together the healing ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the healing mission of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to promote community health across the Episcopal Diocese. Since its inception, it has awarded more than 1200 grants totaling more than $70 million to nonprofit service organizations in the Houston area and 32 Texas counties, targeting disease prevention and health promotion among the underserved.

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