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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.
The team receives most of its referrals from The Harris Center Crisis Line, which is available to anyone experiencing a mental health and/or IDD related crisis 24-hours per day. While the staff of the Crisis Line assist with the immediate needs of the caller, Willis and her team follow-up on referrals to their program the next business day.
According to Willis, most of the calls they receive usually come directly from caregivers who are not sure how to deal with crises involving their loved ones.
“They’re also very stressed, overwhelmed and don’t have a lot of supports and services. So it makes it very challenging,” said Willis.
Some of the scenarios that the crisis care team sees include behavioral issues such as physical and verbal aggression, property destruction, self-injury, placement issues when an individual can no longer be cared for appropriately in the home and communication problems when the individual cannot express wants or needs adequately. Another frequent scenario is when an individual with IDD also has a co-occurring mental illness that may not have been previously diagnosed or properly treated.
As a clinical psychologist who works with the IDD Intensive Needs Program, Alton Bozeman, PsyD, said that simply getting individuals with IDD properly diagnosed with a co-occurring mental illness is sometimes a challenge. This is due in part to diagnostic overshadowing, where a person’s symptoms may be wrongly attributed to an existing diagnosis rather than to a previously undiagnosed condition. The National Association for the Dually Diagnosed estimates that approximately 30-35 percent of individuals living with IDD also have a co-occurring mental illness.
“However, with our population, it tends to skew much further towards having a dual diagnosis,” said Dr. Bozeman.
The complexities involved in supporting and caring for an individual with a dual diagnosis is a large part of why The Harris Center offers the crisis component found in the IDD Intensive Needs Program.
“One of our goals at The Harris Center is to serve people with IDD through the lifespan. This means that we’re there during some of the best times and also some of the most difficult times for our consumers and their families,” said Willis.
To request assistance from the IDD Intensive Needs Program, please contact The Harris Center Crisis Line at 713-970-7000, option 1.
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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.
Kim Tope is a licensed master social worker and a certified anger resolution therapist. More pertinent to her current role at The Harris Center, Kim is also a certified peer specialist who uses her own lived experience in recovery from mental illness to help those who find themselves in need of support and treatment through a one-of-a-kind program in Texas known as The P.E.E.R.S. for Hope House.
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD recently hosted an Open House and inauguration for its new PostHospitalization Crisis Residential Unit (PHCRU). Funded by the Texas 1115 Healthcare Transformation Waiver, this one-of-a-kind, cost-effective program will focus on furthering each individual’s work toward stabilization and reducing costly emergency room visits, incarceration and rapid hospital readmissions in the future.
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.
When D. Danielle Hale, Ph.D., arrived as a new employee at The Harris Center, her first assignment was facilitating a group with male inmates at The Harris County Jail that was part of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program. Nine years later, Dr. Hale’s list of responsibilities as the now-Lead Psychologist for the Adult Services Program of The Harris Center’s Mental Health Forensic Services Division has grown to include overseeing additional programs in the Jail and the supervision of a dozen employees. However, she continues to facilitate the same group she was first assigned in 2007. According to Dr. Hale, “That’s where my joy is, where my passion is.”
The CBT Program focuses on helping those who participate learn how to better handle everyday situations and choices, something many of these inmates may not get the chance to do otherwise. Housed together in one unit within the Jail, about twenty men are part of the CBT Program at any given time. They are referred to the program by The Harris Center staff providing mental health services in the Jail, Jail staff or they may self-refer. Participants may remain in the program for up to five months while in the Jail, and the ages of those in the program have ranged from 18 to over 60.
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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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