*All videos are Closed Captioned on Youtube*
Harris County now has a new resource to help keep people with mental illness out of the Harris County Jail. The new Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center provides law enforcement with a community-based alternative for persons with mental illness who have been picked up for low-level, non-violent offenses such as trespass. The Diversion Center celebrated its ribbon-cutting and dedication October 1, 2018 at 9 a.m.
“The opening of the Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center offers our community a viable and humane solution to the criminalization and inefficient detention of people with mental illness and truly embodies the spirit of relational policing,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
The center will provide an array of services that include:
“Our public safety depends on the way we utilize police and prosecutor time. Diverting the mentally ill to treatment instead of jail will help keep Harris County safer and save taxpayers millions,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of the new Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center.
Sometimes people with mental illness and criminal justice involvement may fall through the safety net. As Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez explains, “The Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center fills a gaping hole in our public service safety net, connecting those suffering from mental illness with the right resources without an unnecessary jail stay that hurts families and drains public safety resources.”
The Harris County legislative delegation has been supportive of issues related to mental health. State Senator Joan Huffman and State Representative Senfronia Thompson led the legislative efforts that created the Harris County Mental Health Jail Diversion pilot program at Judge Emmett’s office, which laid the ground work for this new programming.
According to Wayne Young, Chief Executive Officer of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, “Though the Harris Center now operates the Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center, it is truly a collaboration between community partners who are deeply committed to better serve the mental health needs of the most vulnerable residents in our community, rather than the jail.” Key partners include Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the Harris County Commissioners Court, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Mental Health Standing Committee and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The Diversion Center is named in honor of Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and his long-standing commitment to improving the lives of persons with mental illness. “This is a truly humbling honor. Although my name is on the building, many others worked to make this a reality. To be clear, though, this facility is dedicated to those individuals and families who deal with mental health issues in their lives,” said Judge Emmett.
As The Harris Center’s crisis division, the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) provides services to individuals in Harris County experiencing a mental health crisis. From its 24-hour Crisis Line to its internationally-recognized collaborations with law enforcement, the CPEP is constantly working to reach those who need help.
The Harris Center Public Affairs team worked with a media crew from the Mental Health Channel to support its efforts to produce a special documentary that highlights the intersection between mental illness and the criminal justice system. A segment of this special features Dr. Regenia Hicks, Director of the Harris County Jail Diversion program
The Harris Center Psychiatric Emergency Service (PES) located at the NeuroPsychiatric Center (NPC) is one of the major public mental health emergency programs in Harris County. Started in 1999, services are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to anyone in Harris County experiencing some type of mental health crisis.
Wayne Young, MBA, LPC, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer
Wayne Young currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center), the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority for Harris County. As the CEO of the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, Mr. Young oversees the planning and delivery of behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services to over 88,000 people per year and manages an annual budget of over $270 million.
All of us need support from time to time. Whether we need to have a good cry or a good laugh, knowing we have someone to turn to in a time of crisis is a comfort many of us take for granted.
For individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), finding that help is not always easy. The same is true for those who serve as caregivers for loved ones with IDD. At The Harris Center, the IDD Intensive Needs Program is available to help provide the support and compassion that many need.
While the IDD Intensive Needs Program provides community-based supports throughout Harris County, it also has a component that focuses on providing crisis care. Implemented in 2016 as an initiative of the State of Texas and led by Clinical Team Leader Amanda Willis, LCSW-S, the three person staff is composed of master level clinicians who provide assessments, support and linkage to on-going community-based services for individuals with IDD who find themselves in a crisis.
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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