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Texas Health Dallas Psychiatrist Receives Distinguished Service Award

DALLAS — Dr. Gary Etter, medical director of in-patient psychiatry at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, has been honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians. The award is given to psychiatric physicians who have made broad contributions to the field of mental health over an extended period of time.

“I’m honored by this award and want to thank the mental health professionals I’ve been so privileged to work alongside over the years,” Etter said. “I also owe sincere appreciation to the patients who have entrusted their care to me. Seeing people successfully deal with mental health issues is what inspires me everyday.”

Etter has been a key leader of the Texas Department of State Health Services Crisis Services Workgroup. The group, formed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2006, was charged with assessing the mental health needs of the different regions of the state. Members of the panel have helped to implement specific action plans for providing mental health services in communities throughout the state.

“One of the challenges has been to address the specific needs of communities from all corners of the state, with widely divergent issues and problems,” said Etter, who was named a Distinguished Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association in 2003. “The mental health needs in the Panhandle can be far different from the mental health needs of communities in South Texas, which have different needs than a major metropolitan area like Dallas-Fort Worth.”

Etter has also been a key player in the design and implementation of mental health services in crisis situations in North Texas, including suicide hot lines and support programs for victims of disasters and emergency responders. He recently presented “Crisis Services Redesign: A Review of Current and Proposed Changes in Psychiatric Emergency Services” to the American Association of Emergency Psychiatry. In 1985, Etter was awarded the Certificate for Merit for Disaster Relief in the aftermath of the Delta Flight 191 crash at DFW International Airport.

The jetliner crashed while on a routine approach, killing 135 people. In 2000, Etter was honored with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Exemplary Psychiatrist Award. He was named an American Psychiatric Association Fellow in 1999.

Etter graduated with high honor from the University of Texas at Arlington, before attending the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He earned his medical degree in 1980 then completed his residency at Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital in Dallas.

“I was always told that patients with serious psychiatric problems never got better,” he said, “but that’s not the case at all. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is that I see people get better every day. I regularly see patients with a variety of mental health issues, from mild to severe, get better in a relatively short amount of time. That’s why I love my work so much.”

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 866-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. US News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit


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