Welcome from the Chair of Psychiatry

I was attracted to Dell Medical School (DMS) for the unparalleled opportunity to rethink health, health care and illness prevention.  DMS is seeking to revolutionize how people become and stay healthy and how to evolve our health systems to support this transformation. As a core partner in this mission, the DMS Psychiatry is working to ensure that mental health intervention and treatment is fully integrated into these new value-based models of care.   

Dell Medical School is uniquely positioned to leverage the strengths of academic medicine and the expertise of our community partners to build and test new value-based models of care.  Our clinical facility will house some of these new models, but innovation will extend beyond the medical school campus.  In Psychiatry and in partnership with our local state Senator Kirk Watson, we are working closely with the Seton Healthcare Family, Integral Care, Central Health, the University of Texas System, the State, and many other community partners to rethink and improve existing mental health approaches.  This community-wide effort is determined to change the face of mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention in Central Texas and beyond. I have been exceptionally pleased to find the community here to be fully on board with these goals, eager to partner to change how we care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. 

Millions of people suffer each year from mental illness and addiction in Texas.  Our mental health care delivery problems in Central Texas are not unique.  We have a hospital- and jail-centric model of care that is driven by crisis response rather than preventive and rehabilitative care.  As we work together we hope to increase access to high quality mental health care and mental health support at the right levels, at the right times, and in the right places. 

A transformation of this scale requires a multifaceted approach.  The DMS Psychiatry will achieve our goals through three complementary strategies:

  •  Designing innovative mental health care delivery and illness prevention models that will meet the needs of residents of Central Texas that are scalable to the state and beyond;
  •  Performing psychiatric translational and clinical research that leads to real differences in people’s mental health; and
  •  Training the next generation of mental health clinicians & leaders to disseminate innovative care models as widely as possible.

How will we know if we are successful?  Changing the landscape of mental health care delivery is a long-term proposition, but we will be continually asking questions along the way to guide and assess our progress.  Has access to psychiatric care improved? Are children and adults receiving the right level of care at the right time and in the right place? Have we reduced the number of first touches that are occurring in jails and hospitals? Are our medical students, residents and physicians rethinking how and when mental health care assessment is an appropriate element of care? 

I look forward to the transformation in mental health care delivery that is coming to Central Texas.  The Department of Psychiatry is excited to be partnering with our community to participate in this critical effort to help some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Best Wishes,

Steve Strakowski, MD
Chair, Department of Psychiatry