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Matt Roberts

Meet Matt Roberts, president of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, an organization fighting to upgrade the local mental health system. In 2013, it is estimated MHA touched the lives of about 100,000 people in Dallas and across Texas.

For years, Roberts has dedicated himself to improving mental health care and educating elected officials through advocacy. Before his post at MHA, Roberts served as the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dallas Chapter, where he managed the group's largest fundraising event.

We wanted to know a bit more about Roberts and Mental Health America of Greater Dallas and he was kind enough to answer a few questions: 

Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.

Matt Roberts: We are dedicated to improving the mental health of our community through advocacy and education. That means we spend a lot of time educating elected officials and fighting for improvements in our local mental health system.  We also have a number of education programs including Mental Health First Aid to the WHO, We Help Ourselves, training.  Last year we touched around 100,000 lives in Dallas and across the state.

DT: What are your duties at Mental Health America of Greater Dallas?  

MR: I lead the staff to implement our strategic plan.  A lot of my time is spent working with stakeholders in our mental health system.  The work we do depends on the support and involvement of the people affected by mental health concerns and professionals who deliver services in the community.  

DT: How did you become involved with Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the organization?   

MR: I became involved in the mental health field after graduating with an MBA in nonprofit management. Once involved in this work, I saw how many other problems in society stem from the fact that many people with mental health disorders that are not properly cared for. 

DT: Why do you work in the nonprofit sector? 

MR: I want to help improve our community and MHA can assist in that. 

DT: It can be difficult for any non profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat? 

MR: We are fortunate to have the support of many individuals and foundations who are also passionate about the work we do. 

DT: How can the people of Dallas and beyond help you meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs? 

MR: We need to speak up. Whether we are speaking up about Texas’ mental health budget or speaking up because a neighbor appears to need help, we must raise our voice to fight the stigma associated with these diseases. If we are quite, the illnesses can flourish. At MHA Dallas our biggest need is money to expand our programs.  We can see where our work helps people. For example, I know we are reducing fighting on school campuses, we are increasing the likelihood that someone will go to a mental health clinic and we are reducing stigma. The necessary funds to expand these programs is the single biggest reason we don't help more people than we do.

DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Mental Health America of Greater Dallas?

MR: Testifying in front of the Legislative Budget Board at the Texas Capitol. I was arguing for more funding for our public mental health system.  I realized if we want to improve the funding for our system, we will need all of our local stakeholders working together.

DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day? 

MR: I look at my emails and make the day's to do list.

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at dtongish@yahoo.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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