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As a response to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) is collaborating with Harris County to lead a new community wellness and resiliency program to support communities in Harris County, Texas. Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities, a locally led mental wellness and resiliency initiative, will focus on ten Harris County zip codes (i.e.,77093, 77504, 77022, 77076, 77090, 77060, 77033, 77091, 77038, 77450) that underutilize traditional mental health care and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as well other public health issues, such as suicide. The program aims to leverage natural and existing social support systems to create a community-led network of emotional supports and assistance.
The basis of the program is the community-initiated care model as framed by program partner, Well Being Trust. This model moves beyond traditional mental and behavioral wellness support, such as treatment from licensed clinicians in a clinic setting, to a more integrated model of community led supports by partnering directly with the community to invest in training, education, outreach and messaging. This will allow communities to become better equipped to address behavioral health concerns and build ongoing resiliency.
“In many cases, individuals will seek emotional support from someone they know, who lives within their community,” stated Wayne Young, chief executive officer of The Harris Center. “The evidence-based components of this initiative will provide education and training to these individuals to address a much-needed resource within our communities.”
The program will utilize several different evidence-based approaches and strategies to support communities within Harris County. It will offer customized resources that are most impactful in their neighborhoods.
“We will never have enough of the traditional mental health workforce to meet the nation’s demand for mental health,” said Benjamin Miller, Psy.D., president of the Well Being Trust. “Comprehensively addressing our country’s mental health and addiction needs will require a multi-faceted approach – creating pathways for care wherever need exists. Community-initiated care is an innovative approach that enhances this capacity to reach people in need by equipping those in a position to provide support with the knowledge and skills necessary to more effectively intervene. By harnessing the power and potential within communities to recognize and address the needs of those around them, community-initiated care can help improve outcomes and alleviate the burden on our traditional clinical system by expanding prevention, early intervention and supportive services in community-based settings.”
“We can’t let mental health become another casualty of the COVID-19 crisis,” stated Lina Hidalgo, Harris County judge. “We have a unique chance right now to pull folks who are suffering in silence back from the depths of anxiety, depression and even suicide. Eliminating the stigma associated with mental health disorders will take a long time. But in the meantime we must take action.”
“This program offers a unique opportunity for community members to recognize the early signs of those struggling with mental health challenges,” said Rodney Ellis, Harris County Precinct 1 commissioner. “The barbers, beauticians, teachers and faith-based leaders who participate in the training offered by The Harris Center will be equipped with the tools needed to identify, intervene and link community members to professional care. I see this as a way to create a more caring community in which neighbors help neighbors.”
“We’ve had a mental health crisis in Harris County long before the emergence of COVID. As the former sheriff of Harris County, I knew this all too well,” added Adrian Garcia, Harris County Precinct 2 commissioner. “However, the pandemic has only exacerbated that critical need for access to mental health services. We’re addressing the need with this first investment of ARPA funds for this critical program for which I was a loud advocate. Empowering community leaders and families to provide help to people who are struggling is in an innovative way to save lives. It will pay off for years to come, long after these funds have been exhausted, and I’m so excited to have been a part of launching it. I’m thankful of the partnership with the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, along with UH and UT.”
“Mental health is something people are hesitant to address but has become a significant issue exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner, Tom Ramsey. “Our community desperately needs this initiative, and I'm looking forward to seeing the positive impact.”
“I welcome programs like this that seek to better integrate friends and neighbors into an individual’s mental health support system,” said Harris County Precinct 4 commissioner, R. Jack Cagle. “Training families, friends and neighbors how to better care for each other is clearly an effective strategy to mental health care.”
To learn more about The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, visitTheHarrisCenter.org.
If you or someone you know needs professional mental or behavioral health support, you can reach The Harris Center Crisis Line at (713) 970-7000 or the Statewide COVID 19 MH Support Line at (833) 986-1919.”
About The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD
The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral health and developmental disability care center in the State of Texas, The Harris Center provides a full continuum of services to 88 sites across Harris County, serving approximately 80,000 individuals annually. Learn more atTheHarrisCenter.org.
HOUSTON, TX (June 23, 2021) – Following a competitive national search, The Harris Center is pleased to announce Luming Li, M.D., M.H.S. as the organization’s new Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Li will officially join the organization on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
August 17, 2021 - Holmusk, a leading global data science and health technology company building the world’s largest Real-World Evidence (RWE) platform for behavioral health, has signed data license agreements with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) in Harris County, Texas.
HOUSTON – Feb. 11, 2020 – The Board of Trustees of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD approved today a significant step to move forward with the implementation of an Electronic Health Record system (EHR) that will bring improved health outcomes for those with serious mental illness in Harris County. The Harris Center is working with Harris Health System to implement a tailored to fit EHR to support the center’s complex health care operations.
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD received $836,243 from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program to enhance its telehealth service infrastructure. The FCC received funding for this program through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The FCC funds will enable The Harris Center to further expand access to behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services for Harris County residents via telehealth platforms.
Nov. 15, 2021 – HOUSTON - A person’s response to a traumatic event can vary. Depending on their history of past trauma, their direct exposure to the traumatic event and other factors, symptoms could carry on long after the event has passed.
In an effort to support Houstonians following the tragic events at AstroWorld Festival, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) is offering counseling services to anyone impacted by these events – including friends and family members of those who have been impacted.
HOUSTON, October 1, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of individuals who are homeless and have mental illnesses. It is not only the unhealthy conditions on the streets that make the unsheltered homeless “at-risk” to COVID-19; most suffer from underlying, chronic health conditions. An estimated 15-25% of individuals experiencing homelessness throughout Harris County and the greater Houston area suffer from severe mental health issues making it difficult for city, county and local partners to quickly assist and house them out of harm’s way. Social distancing requirements have also reduced homeless shelter capacity. These extremely acute individuals have a large impact on first responders and hospitals by routinely requiring emergency intervention. These individuals increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to first responders and the community
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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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