*All videos are Closed Captioned on Youtube*
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 is very good at intervention. We know that for every person who dies by suicide, there are hundreds of people living with suicidal thoughts who do not make an attempt,” said Crisis Line Director Jennifer Battle, LMSW. “As an agency we wanted to know how we could do more, and we determined we needed to look at prevention via education and awareness.”
And that is exactly what was done when the Community Training Department was created.
“The purpose of the Community Training program is to help people become more aware of the symptoms of mental health concerns and the various types of brain illness and mental illness that exist. [As well as] to really focus on specific action steps that people can do to prevent suicide,” Battle said.
The department educates individuals and organizations on risk factors and warning signs for mental health crises and crises around suicide. Trainings include Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Working Minds, safeTalk and ASK about Suicide to save a life.
“We go out into the community and offer a lot of different programs for folks. Our primary focus is suicide prevention. It’s wonderful because I think it’s a bridge between The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and so many facets of the community,” Community Outreach Trainer Carroll Campion Prasad, M.Ed., LPC, said.
There are many stereotypes about individuals with mental illness. The stigma around it emerges “when an individual is set apart from others due to a psychiatric condition,” said Community Training Manager Jacinda Tucker, Ph.D., leading to fear, secrecy and shame and keeping individuals from obtaining needed care.
“Our department helps reduce the stigma of mental illness by educating the community about the needs of those suffering with a condition,” Dr. Tucker said. “We want people to understand that mental illness is treatable. People often recover from a mental illness and lead productive, engaged lives.”
Recently, the Community Training Department conducted a preliminary program evaluation to better understand how school district personnel who participated in Mental Health First Aid trainings were implementing the skills they learned.
“During Fall semester of the 2016-17 school year, 80 percent of respondents reported using their Youth Mental Health First Aid skills with a student,” Dr. Tucker said.
“A student was saying she didn’t want to live, and had been cutting [on herself] and was depressed. I was able to intervene with the student and her parents, and they started seeing a therapist,” reported a Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainee.
This is exactly the kind of impact the Community Training Department aims to have.
“We are so much more than just one thing as people. We may have a mental illness, but we are not a mental illness,” Prasad said. “That’s just a part of who we are.”
For more information on participating in a training or hosting a training, you may contact the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
It is early morning, and stepping out of the Metro bus is Sh’Clara Smith. She makes her way to the front doors of The Harris Center’s Gessner Day Program where she signs in and greets her friends ready to take on the day. As she sits, other participants gather around and they begin sharing what they did over the weekend.
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.
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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