AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Dr. Mitchell Jones spoke to members and leaders in the Amarillo community about his experiences interviewing the murderers of the ‘In Cold Blood’ case that later turned into a well-known book and movie.
But he left his mark in the Panhandle in the 90′s by working with Hugh Pennal to found a mental health facility here in Amarillo.
“They both worked very heavily, I guess you would say, to start The Pavilion and TPC and provide mental health treatment for individuals in our community,” said Director of Outpatient Services at The Pavilion Melissa Preece.
Dr. Jones says over the years, mental health treatment has come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.
He believes many communities, including ones in the Panhandle, have a shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners.
“There are not enough to go around. And there are certainly some areas and some segments of society that are underserved,” said Jones. “They may not have finances, they may not have access.”
He also says mental health stigmas are still present in rural areas.
“You don’t go around telling people you have schizophrenia or depression. People sort of still look down on that. It’s improving, but it’s still a big problem,” said Jones.
However, Jones does laud Amarillo’s leaders for mental health advocacy, educational opportunities, and the mental health care facilities do provide.
“You can go to The Pavilion, get an assessment, that assessment will determine if they need inpatient care or outpatient care,” said Preece. “TPC has services where they provide counseling, Texas Tech has psychiatry, So there are quite a few places for people to go.”
Those who organized the lecture say this was one of their largest turnouts.
“Dr. Jones built the mental health community that we currently take advantage of today that has helped thousands of people with mental illness and families, educated hundreds of medical students in the field of psychiatry,” said Psychiatry Dept. Administrator at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Tim Bowles. “It’s just a testament to how far mental health treatment has come and the countless lives that have been changed because of people like Dr. Jones.”