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Cheers, claps and smiles filled the room as participants of the HealthMatters Program received their graduation certificates. This recognition came after individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) completed a 12-week training in which they learned about good nutrition and the importance of increasing exercise.
“The HealthMatters Program is a partnership between the community and academia with a common aim to improve the health of people with developmental disabilities. The program helps persons with disabilities make choices about health, exercise and nutrition,” said ICF-IDD & TxHmL Services Department Director Lily Pan.
Promoting Fitness for All, HealthMatters had a variety of hands-on activities for participants which included exercising, shopping for healthy food items, discussions on nutritional information and others. The program also allowed parents to learn how to support a healthy lifestyle for their loved ones.
“With the hands-on activities, persons with disabilities increase motivation and skills they need to improve their health and make good habits last a lifetime,” Lily said.
The Arc of Greater Houston is the project coordinator and in March of 2016, individuals who attend The Harris Center Gessner Day Program were informed about HealthMatters. Within the Gessner Day Program, individuals participate in community activities like the HealthMatters Program, along with choir practice, the Home Depot Workshop, bowling and the Exercise & Scrapbook Program in the Alief Community Center, just to name a few.
“The Gessner Day Program offers habilitation services tailored to the varied needs of the individuals with a focus on community integration,” said Lily.
Most health promotion activities are usually targeted to the general population, and individuals with intellectual disabilities are left behind.
That is why programs like HealthMatters are highly important in our community. Initiatives like these are to help individuals stay active and involved.
“Persons with low health literacy have higher utilization of treatment services. Improved health education and health literacy is a critical component for persons with intellectual disabilities to gain control over their health and manage chronic conditions,” Lily said.
In addition to this program, The Harris Center offers a variety of other programs that help individuals with IDD. For more information contact the HelpLine at 713-970-7000.
Dancing, flu shots, turkey chili, learning how to use a fire extinguisher as well as bone density exams all in one day? That’s right, The Harris Center’s Wellness department hosted it’s 5th annual Health and Wellness Fair in which employees were able to participate in different activities as well as learn about different resources community partners and vendors had to offer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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