Category Archives: Mental Health

50 North Texas Police Officers Learn About Autism at Training

Nearly 50 law enforcement professionals including officers, school resource officers and administrators gathered in Fort Worth this week for training on how better work with people on the autism spectrum in the community.

The training was hosted by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office and taught by Autism Safety 101 from Florida.

“My goal is to familiarize Texas law enforcement with autism,” instructor Bart Barta said. “How people with autism react and respond.”

Barta is familiar with both sides of the lesson. Not only is his 14-year-old son on the autism spectrum, he is also a former member of the law enforcement community.

Read more from NBCDFW…

Suicide hotline calls rose by 65% after Spade, Bourdain deaths

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

After the deaths by suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, calls and texts to crisis hotlines spiked dramatically.

Trained counselors at more than 150 crisis centers in the United States fielded 65% more phone calls over the previous week for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the organization’s director of communications, Frances Gonzalez, said. And the Crisis Text Line saw a 116% increase in volume, according to Liz Eddy, the text line’s spokeswoman.

Read more from CNN/MSN…

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Courtesy of CNN

Mental Health Matters fundraiser to feature speaker Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter

PRESS RELEASE

MHM 2016Staff Sgt. Ty Carter will be the featured speaker at the 2nd Annual Mental Health Matters Fundraising Event on April 28 at 6:00 p.m. at Reflection Bay Event Center, located at 12234 Shadow Creek Pkwy.

The event is hosted by Counseling Connections for Change, Inc. a non-denominational, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. “Our vision is to strengthen mental health in Brazoria County and our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy individuals, families and community,” said Chief Development Officer Charlotte Selvera. The event precludes Mental Health Month in May.

Carter received the Medal of Honor for actions during the battle at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. An outpost in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province was surrounded by almost 300 insurgents who opened fire with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades the morning of October 3, 2009. Fifty-three Americans were stationed there; eight were killed in battle and 25 were wounded, including Carter, who suffered hearing loss, shrapnel injuries and a concussion.

Carter will share his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress. He advises those suffering from post-traumatic stress to “get help.” While difficult, Staff Sgt. Carter adds that counseling is the only way to heal. Counseling Connections is committed to bringing mental health awareness to the community and reducing the stigma of mental illness.

“The greatest desire of Counseling Connections for Change, Inc. is to provide counseling and healthy relationship training to our clients without the burden of financial constraints,” said Chief Executive Officer Dawn Lawless, LCSW, LSOTP.

“Unfortunately, many of our neighbors are without healthcare benefits or receive state-funded benefits, which create an expense shortage between benefit reimbursement rates and operating costs,” said Lawless. “In 2015, we served 1,145 clients. We had to turn away 1,084 clients. The need for services is great. We have capacity issues. 26% of our services were provided to those who qualify for government assistance, including Medicaid, military benefits and the uninsured. Many of our clients depend on outside community support. Sponsor and individual contributions will help us continue to meet the needs of our clients,” she added.

All of the therapists with Counseling Connections are licensed through the state or are working on a graduate degree in the mental health field. “We integrate Christian principles with evidence-based interventions,” said Lawless.

Information about Counseling Connections for Change, Inc. as well as ticket and sponsorship information may be found at CounselingConnections.org.

Veterans Day Walk funds presented to Pearland groups

PRESS RELEASE

This week, HIKE for Mental Health completed the distribution of the net proceeds from the Pearland Veterans Day Walk by presenting checks to two local Pearland organizations.

VFW Post 7109 received a total of $2,130 to support their efforts to become a more integral part of the Pearland community. Extra thanks to Jonathan, Maegan and many others who provided the BBQ lunch for the Veterans Day walkers!

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HIKE for Mental Health also presented $1,600 to Dawn Lawless and the team at Counseling Connections for Change, a nonprofit counseling center in Pearland. They will use the money to continue their community educations programs. Last year, they provided suicide prevention workshops for Pearland schools. Thanks for Dawn, Pam and Charlotte for help with this year’s walk.

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Nurse Rosa Klocksiem contacted HIKE for Mental Health several ago asking for help with materials for the unit’s patients, who include veterans as well as active duty service men and women suffering with PTSD and other inner challenges. They have raised money every Veterans Day since then to buy books, videos, pamphlets and other materials that Rosa needs.

These two distributions compete the disbursement of the net proceeds from the 2015 Pearland Veterans Day Walk, which began with sending much needed materials to the Behavioral Health floor of the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, TX, last week.

After the most recent materials arrived, Rosa sent the following note:

Dear Leo,

Some more packages arrived and I am sending you a photo of active duty staff that I am honored to work with. The ward is a locked unit for inpatient care to provide safety and structure for warriors in behavioral health crisis. All your donations help us to serve them. We would not have those therapeutic books to offer if it was not for you and your volunteers. Thank you so much!

With Utmost Respect and Appreciation,
Rosa

We extend our thanks to the walkers, donors and sponsors, including MHI Compressor Corporation, Marvin Monk, the City of Pearland, Pearland City Councilman Tony Carbone, Pearland City Councilman Derrick Reed, Pearland City Councilman Gary Moore, Pearland City Councilman Keith Ordeneaux, Pearland City Councilman Greg Hill, Cooling Tower Depot, H-E-B, Glen & Linda Rider, Pearland Democrats, Nancy Kozanecki, The Ivy District, David L. Smith Realty/The Legacy Group, Stacy Adams, Buck Stevens, Matt Sebesta, Gringo’s Tex-Mex, and Mike’s Tri City Icehouse. We also thank the Kolache Shoppe and Maine-ly Sandwiches for providing snacks for our volunteers and exhibitors.

We are already starting to plan the 2016 walk. If you are interested in helping, please contact Leo at leo.walker@hikeformentalhealth.org or call 603 801-5662.

Allsup Provides Disability Screenings and Return to Work Information at National Alliance on Mental Illness Gulf Coast Conference

About one-third of individuals in the U.S. who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits has a diagnosed mental disorder, according to Allsup, a nationwide SSDI representation company. Allsup will provide SSDI and veteran’s disability appeal screenings at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Gulf Coast Mental Health Awareness Conference at the Doyle Center, Texas City, Thursday, Oct. 8th.

Tai Venuti, Allsup’s manager of Strategic Alliances will present the workshop, “What You Need to Know About Obtaining SSDI and Using the Ticket to Work Program.”

According to NAMI, work can be an essential step on the path to wellbeing and recovery for people living with mental illness by providing increased income, structure, a sense of purpose and opportunities to learn and interact with others.

“For people living with mental illness, making the connection between SSDI and financial stability, access to treatment and even successful re-entry into the workforce, can be a game-changer,” said Venuti.  “Learning about Social Security Disability eligibility requirements, benefits, and the application process are investments that can help people avoid or mitigate crises.”

SSDI is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program. A portion of the FICA taxes workers pay is set aside for SSDI (as well as Social Security retirement and Medicare). To see Allsup’s explanation of the full range of SSDI benefits, including return-to-work incentives, click here.

The conference features more than 20 speakers with information relevant to individuals living with mental illness, their families, general public, professionals and the faith community.  For professionals, 5.0 CEUs are available.

“We want to take this opportunity to invite everyone to the upcoming annual Mental Health Awareness Conference,” said Jeanette Taylor, NAMI Gulf Coast executive director. “This year’s conference promises to be bigger and better with opportunities that you won’t want to miss. So many families and professionals call us and insist on programing that encompasses mind, body and spirit. We have heard you and we are excited to include a new faith-based track; the hope, a more complete family on the road to recovery.”

Karen Winters Schwartz, a strong advocate for mental illness awareness, and a sought after speaker and author will be the keynote speaker. Winters Schwartz knows firsthand how mental illness can devastate family.

To register for the conference, go to www.namigulfcoast.org or call (281) 585-3100 or (888)554-2264.

For more information on SSDI eligibility, call the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (888) 841-2126 or visit Expert.Allsup.com.

Memorial Hermann PaRC 10th Annual Ride for Recovery will celebrate National Recovery Month

PRESS RELEASE

direct-mail_6-x-4_FRONT2015The Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) will hold its 10th Annual Ride for Recovery on Sunday, Sept. 13. The organized motorcycle ride, which covers nearly 100 miles of scenic roadway, is held in recognition of National Recovery Month and donates all proceeds to local addiction treatment facilities.

The Ride for Recovery is also a way of educating the community about addiction and removing some of the shame and stigma attached to the disease, according to Jane Barnes, MBA, LCDC, CRPS, Associate Vice President of Operations at PaRC, and one of the event’s founders and organizers.

“We often hear the negative stories about alcoholism and drug abuse, but there are a lot of positive stories of redemption and recovery,” Barnes said. “Houston has a huge community of people in recovery who have turned their lives around.”

A first of its kind in the Houston area, the Ride for Recovery has raised more than $75,000 in support for local recovery programs and operations since it began. The event is organized by PaRC and the PaRC Alumni Association, and has been attended by as many as 100 motorcyclists and non-bikers, who are also invited to show their support.

This year, the goal is to raise $25,000 for The Men’s Center and AWay Out Women’s Center of Pasadena, which reach out to those who suffer from alcoholism and addiction.

The Ride begins at PaRC, located at 3043 Gessner (3 miles north of I-10 and 1 mile east of Beltway 8, between Kempwood and Clay on Gessner) at 9 a.m. and will take riders through parts of Harris, Montgomery and Waller Counties. Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. and the riders will be greeted with barbecue, live music and door prizes upon their return to PaRC at noon.

Sponsorship packages for the event are still available. Registration prior to the event is $30 per person and $50 per couple. Same-day registration is $35 per person and $60 per couple.

Riders and attendees can register at www.rideforrecovery.com. Those who are unable to attend the event but wish to make a contribution can do so online or by phone the PaRC at 713-329-7272. Potential sponsors should call Barnes at 713-329-7555.

Life Skills House Hosts Identity Matters Workshop

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 2.48.00 PMLife Skills House is hosting an “Identity Matters” workshop.

We believe that one’s success in life is largely attributed to one’s perception of self. How we think and feel about ourselves and our abilities will generally dictate our actions and eventually determine our destiny. Unfortunately, with different life encounters, our true identity tends to get somewhat distorted. We feel that if we can help people adjust their mindsets and replace faulty thought patterns with the truth, then there is no limit to their potential accomplishments.

We aim to help them tap into and unleash their God-given gifts and talents. We also want to help them understand the importance of safeguarding their identity through practicing effective safety measures on social media. Additionally, we aim to help them take a proactive approach in safeguarding their children as well. 

Silver Alert Issued In Fort Bend County

Milburn, RobertThe Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office is seeking help in finding a senior citizen who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. A Silver Alert has been issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sometime between 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 and 7 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, Robert Milburn left his home in the Fairpark Village subdivision near Rosenberg and is believed to be headed north.

Milburn, 77, is 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs about 240 pounds. He is bald and has a long gray beard and a ponytail.
He is driving a silver 2013 Hyundai Tucson and he is believed to be traveling north on Interstate 45.

He recently moved to the Rosenberg area from McKinney and he has driven north one time before.

If anyone sees Milburn, they are asked to contact the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at 281-341-4665.

Robert Milburn - Hyundai Tucson

Hundreds attend Mental Health Matters fundraiser

PRESS RELEASE

(From L to R) Roshanda Cayette-Contreras, staff attorney, Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan LLP; Ashlea Quinonez, director of Government Relations; Dawn Lawless, Executive Director of Counseling Connections; Crystal Carbone, volunteer

Recent statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness show close to a million adults in Texas live with serious mental illness. Memorial Hermann Health System is working to address the mental and behavioral health gap in Harris and surrounding counties and recently sponsored the Mental Health Matters Fundraiser Dinner benefitting Counseling Connections for Change, Inc.

Counseling Connections for Change, Inc., is a non-denominational, nonprofit 501c3 organization created to strengthen the mental health needs of Brazoria County. The Mental Health Matters Fundraiser Dinner helps to fund many of the services Counseling Connections for Change, Inc., offers to children, adults and families throughout the year. Houston businessman, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale was the keynote speaker for the event.

“We are so blessed to have Memorial Hermann in our community,” said Krista Ripper, board member, Counseling Connections for Change, Inc. “They have their own mental health component and we truly appreciate their support and their guidance in serving this need in our community.”

Memorial Hermann currently operates two Mental Health Crisis Clinics. The first opened last year in Humble and a second clinic recently opened in Spring Branch.

Last year, the Memorial Hermann Psychiatric Response Team performed more than 6,200 evaluations and found increasingly complicated co-occurring medical and psychiatric disorders, few available inpatient psychiatric beds, even fewer inpatient options to treat complex co-occurring disorders and limited outpatient services to meet patient needs. Recognizing the scarcity of mental health resources in the area, Memorial Hermann is working quickly to get an additional Mental Health Crisis Clinic open. Memorial Hermann expects to open a third Mental Health Crisis Clinic within the year.

“We recognized the scarcity of mental health resources in our area and have the two crisis clinics open now where individuals can go when they are experiencing a mental health crisis,” says Theresa Fawvor, Associate Vice President, Behavioral Health Services for Memorial Hermann. “The volume of traffic in our clinics is a clear indication of the need for these services. Our goal is to be a resource that will serve people to the appropriate level of care and setting that supports our communities’ mental health. Mental wellness directly impacts one’s ability to engage in overall wellness activities.”

These walk-in clinics provide rapid access to initial psychiatric treatment and outpatient multi-disciplinary services for patients with no immediate access to mental health care. The idea is to keep individuals healthy and safe, develop processes and interventions to manage challenging behaviors and reduce improper hospitalization or incarceration.

For more information regarding the Mental Health Crisis Clinic Hours or services please call 713-338-MHCC (6422).

HCSO Mental Health Crisis Intervention Teams Reach Public Safety Landmark

PRESS RELEASE
Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

The Crisis Intervention Response Teams (CIRT) created by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, in cooperation with other government agencies, have now diverted more than 1,000 people to emergency mental health treatment rather than place them in county jail cells where they would face relatively minor charges.

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“This is the safer, smarter, less expensive approach to dealing with the many cases every day in which deputies and other law enforcement officers encounter people in mental health crisis,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t just help sick people get better sooner; it also helps prevent tragedies, crimes, and heavier burdens on taxpayers.”

In the Houston area, mental health crisis response teams in law enforcement were pioneered by the Houston Police Department, which has 10 two-person teams that respond to 911 calls potentially involving a person with mental illness. Each team is an officer with special training and a civilian clinician from the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County.

The service did not exist for the 1.7 million people in the county’s unincorporated areas until Sheriff Garcia convinced Commissioners Court during an employee hiring freeze in 2011 to fund positions for three county teams. The Sheriff’s Office now has 11 teams and will launch the 12th this month.

Since its October 2011 start, HCSO CIRT has responded to 7,861 calls for service. In 2,798 cases, a subject was taken for treatment under an emergency detention order to the MHMRA NeuroPsychiatric Center, Harris Health’s Ben Taub Hospital, a Veterans Administration facility or private care facility, such as a Memorial Hermann Mental Health Crisis Clinic.

In 1,020 of the instances involving emergency care, the subjects would have been charged and jailed for violations such as trespassing or criminal mischief if CIRT had not existed. These diversions to care have saved taxpayers at least $1.1 million in jail costs and perhaps many more millions of dollars depending on how long each person would have had to stay behind bars.

The sheriff’s staff has worked closely with all entities listed above to expand and improve the program.

“Look at the results,” Sheriff Garcia said. “Obviously this service was desperately needed for all of Harris County. While we try to serve the community in every way possible, especially when there’s an emergency, people with mental illness are just that – ill people. Whenever possible, illness should be dealt with by medical professionals first, not correctional facilities.”

When CIRT responses do not lead to emergency treatment or arrest, cases are often resolved by placing subjects in the care of families and their physicians.

The sheriff emphasized that during an emergency mental health crisis, witnesses or the person with the illness should call 911 for a law enforcement response only when the crisis might involve the commission of a crime. In emergency cases that do not involve a crime, options include calling MHMRA toll-free at 866-970-4770 or the Crisis Intervention of Houston at 713-HOTLINE (468-5463). The Mental Health Association of Greater Houston offers a non-emergency referral service at 713-523-8963.