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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.
Every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” As part of this month’s activities, The Harris Center is highlighting our recent summer internship collaboration with the H.E.A.R.T. Program.For many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), finding jobs out in the “real world” may not always come easy. As part of The Harris Center’s commitment to transform the lives of people with IDD, the agency recently collaborated with the H.E.A.R.T. Program to provide summer internships to individuals with IDD to allow them the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience across our agency’s various programs.
The Harris Center is proud to announce that we are now a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). This accomplishment helps pursue The Harris Centers goal of becoming the most innovative behavioral health system in the country.
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.
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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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