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Houston, TX (March 9, 2021) - The Harris County Judge’s Office, Harris County Juvenile Probation, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, the Harris County Justice Administration Department, and other community stakeholders have recently completed a Critical Intervention Mapping of the Harris County juvenile justice system. The Critical Intervention Map serves as a framework for juvenile justice and mental health systems to use when developing strategies to improve mental health services for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
Representatives from 33 different community organizations established priority areas and developed an action plan. The action items include building or increasing community supports for youth and families; increasing behavioral health capacity to support a continuum of care for youth and families; increasing access of information to youth and families at all points of contact; and examining re-entry process with an emphasis on housing, employment and education.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who chairs the Harris County Juvenile Board, said, “Incarcerating youth only weakens their ties to family, community and school, and makes it more likely that they will return to criminal justice involvement. The path to a meaningful support system that includes diversion and community-based mental health services runs through the community - and they must have a voice in this process.”
“The juvenile justice system should not be the system that first identifies a child’s need for mental health services. By identifying and addressing this need sooner, we may keep more young people from entering the juvenile justice system all together,” added Henry Gonzales, Executive Director of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. “Our existing collaborations allow families to easily access needed services once they are in our system. We need to find ways to ensure they are able to get these services at other points, just as easy as they do when they intersect with our system.”
The Mental Health Standing Committee of the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will act as the lead in implementing the action plan. “Every community I know has gaps when it comes to filling mental health needs. Now, our community has identified the needs and prioritized them so that we can begin to find ways to fill those gaps and improve the delivery system for children and families,” stated Wayne Young, CEO of The Harris Center and chair of the Mental Health Standing Committee.
These strategies may also help other vulnerable populations, such as children and families involved in the child protective services system and victims of human trafficking.
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About the Justice Administration Department: The Justice Administration Department (JAD) was created by the Commissioners Court to act as a resource for all County Criminal and Juvenile Justice Agencies. The Department coordinates amongst stakeholders and provides the members of Commissioners Court, County Criminal and Youth Justice leaders policy research, data analysis, and solutions meant to increase public safety, fairness, equity, efficiency, and accountability throughout the Harris County justice system. For more information, visit https://jad.harriscountytx.gov
The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, The Harris Center provided care to over 79,000 people in fiscal year 2019. Learn more at TheHarrisCenter.org
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, in cooperation with Harris County Probate Court 3 and the University of Houston, has received a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program for people with serious mental illness.
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.
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.
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
Madison Lamont, Miss Harris County 2020, is partnering with The Harris Center to highlight the importance of Mental Health Awareness. We met Miss Harris County earlier this year to learn more about her social initiative and share about the resources available to Harris County residents through The Harris Center.
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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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