Tag Archives: Mental Health

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


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


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!


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.


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,

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.

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


(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

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.


“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.

Mental Illness Awareness Coalition’s Capitol Day 2/28/13

Details: Thursday, February 28th, 2013

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center
First United Methodist Church
Great Hall, 2nd Floor
1300 Lavaca
Austin, Texas


A $10 registration fee is required, which covers the cost of lunch.  MHA Houston will cover the cost for all MHA Members as well as consumers.  Contact Andrea Usanga at ausanga@mhahouston.org for more information.

Capitol Day activites include:

10:00 am – 11:45 am: Advocacy Workshop- receive briefings on key legislative issues and tips on effective legislative advocacy.
11:45 am – 12:15 pm: Box Lunch – enjoy a brief lunch with friends.
12:30 pm – 1:15 pm: Rally on the South steps of the Capitol – participate inrally to draw public attention to important legislation for persons with mental illnesses in Texas.
1:15 pm – 3:30 pm: Visits with members of the Legislature – visit members of the Legislature in teams of advocates to encourage support of needed legislation.
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm: Reception – Wrap-up your visit to the Capitol with refreshments and sharing of your experience.

Steps to take to fully participate in CAPITOL DAY and this opportunity to advocate for quality psychiatric care and the best interests of patients: 

1. Locate your Senator and Representative on the enclosed rosters, and if possible, call their offices for an appointment on February 28 between 1:15 pm and 3:00 pm (if they are not available, please ask to meet with their Chief of Staff or health policy aide).

2. If you wish to travel by bus/carpool with other advocates from your area, please contact: Houston Area: NAMI Greater Houston, Natalie Cloyd, ncloyd@namimetrohouston.org, 713-970-4419.

3. Complete the CAPITOL DAY Registration Form (or register online at www.namitexas.org) and return it by February 15th to Natalie Cloyd at ncloyd@namimetrohouston.org.

4. Come to CAPITOL DAY prepared to learn and to have a very fulfilling and fun experience.

The Mental Illness Awareness Coalition includes: Mental Health America of Texas, NAMI Texas and the Federation of Texas Psychiatry (including the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians, the Texas Academy of Psychiatry and the Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry).

Copyright © 2013 Mental Health America of Greater Houston, All rights reserved.