*All videos are Closed Captioned on Youtube*
The blue skies and shiny green leaves dancing to the rhythm of the friendly summer breeze were the perfect background for the many smiling faces at Bayland Park.
The team of volunteers welcomed and greeted everyone at the Summer Bash, a celebration of recovery. Clients who receive mental health services at the Southwest Community Service Center were invited to the festival-like event to celebrate together the progress they have made and the challenges they have overcome.
Employees from three service units, Children and Adolescents, Adult Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, teamed up to organize games, food, information sharing and encouragement for everyone who participated.
Tiffanie Williams-Brooks is the Practice Manager of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. She expressed joy seeing that the vision of the event was accomplished.
“The Summer Bash provided an opportunity for our families to come together with other families who have experienced mental illness with a family member,” Tiffanie said. “When there is a common bond, there is more cohesiveness and support.”
This unique interaction outside of the clinic setting also proved meaningful to the employees who provide services to the families.
Michelle Andrews was one of the event organizers. She is a Peer Educator for Adult Mental Health Services under the leadership of Practice Manager, Dr. Dionne Hill.
“Through the Summer Bash festivities we wanted to show clients and families that the difficulties and challenges they face should be celebrated and that they should be praised as individuals overcoming challenges. It should be seen as a strength.”
“Families were smiling, adults were playing Apple at the table communicating and laughing, children with expressions of laughter playing games and one teenage boy said to his mother ‘Mom thank you for bringing me here I’m having fun!’ He hugged her. I saw adults enjoy play and laughter. Everywhere I turned, there were smiles,” Michelle said.
Dr. Ee’a Jones is the Practice Manager of the Juvenile Justice Program. At the event she shared about Project Semicolon, which helps raise awareness about mental health recovery. “I provided the Project Semicolon tattoos denoting that a person’s journey is not over because they have a mental illness,” Dr. Jones said.
The positive reactions from the families who participated encouraged event organizers to plan a Summer Bash festivity for 2017.
“Our services transcend the clinic. We want our families to know and feel that we care about them,” Tiffanie said.
What does recovery look like? When you fracture a bone, you get a cast to help it heal. Once the cast is off and you are able to return to normal activities, it is assumed that you are recovered from the fracture. For those living with mental illness, though, recovery is not as simple to define because each person’s journey is unique. The children and adolescents who visit our Southwest Family Resource Center are illustrating their individual stories of recovery in a colorful and visible way by creating recovery posters.
Recovery: one word with countless possibilities. Because there is not one definition of recovery, everyone has their own meaning and their own story.
“The Agency slogan is Transforming Lives, and so, when we think of that and we think of recovery, it means to help someone progress in finding meaning in their life. They are not merely progressing towards eliminating symptoms, but to be able to live a meaningful life past the mental health challenges that they face,” said Ana Oyarvide, Recovery Manager for the Mental Health Outpatient Services Division of The Harris Center.
While the recovery journey is unique for each individual, it is a tie that binds. Those who have lived experience in recovery from mental illness, commonly referred to as peers, offer an insight that is invaluable to those who are either just starting their process or those who find it beneficial to talk to others who understand what it is like to live with a mental illness.
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.
Most people experience stress reactions following a traumatic event such as the recent flood events. Texans Recovering Together (TRT) is a team of licensed counselors from The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD who reach out to survivors to offer free grief and loss crisis counseling, disaster education and resource referrals to help meet immediate needs.
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
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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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