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Mental Health

A Publication of Mental Health America of Greater Houston

FALL 2014

Breaking the Silence! Healing the Hearts, Minds

Dynamic Opportunities

and Families of Greater

for Houston’s

Houston’s Heroes

Faith Communities

2014 Treasures of Texas Gala with Dr. Drew Pinsky of Celebrity Rehab and Dr. Drew On Call • Who’s Investing in Children’s Mental Health • Mental Health First Aid • Celebrate 60! Annual Meeting • Targeting Treatment for Veterans in the Justice System • 2014 Texas Gulf Coast Veterans Summit • Excellence in Veterans Assistance Award • Preventing Violence • Connecting Texas Veterans App • Sharing Hope •


KIDS Taking a Closer Look

Mental health is an essential ingredient of every child’s overall well-being. Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are diagnosable by age 14. Early identification is essential to school-age children to bolster their mental development and to identify and treat those with mental disorders. Mental Health America of Greater Houston has made it a top priority to help youth, families, schools and communities understand and establish effective prevention approaches to help identify mental health issues early and help children and young people get the services they need before crisis situations develop. It is our promise to support initiatives and activities that encourage emotional health and wellness and give all young people a chance to grow into healthy, caring, productive adults. That's the best investment we can make in our children's future. Our annual fundraiser, the Treasures of Texas Gala, this year focuses on youth mental health and serves as an important step in helping others to recognize the impact of childhood mental disorders while creating a community of care that actively addresses children’s mental health. We are proud to recognize Elizabeth “Liz” McIngvaleCegelski, Ph.D., LMSW with the Spirit of Hope Award for her service as a mental health advocate living with mental illness. Liz received a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at the young age of 12. At one point doctors believed her OCD was too severe to be treated. With faith, hope and intensive treatment, her health and her life changed. Liz, now 27, recently received her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Houston. In an effort to help those living with OCD and other illnesses, she has made it her life's mission to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness and to ensure that those with mental illnesses, such as OCD, receive treatment. National behavioral health expert and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Keck USC School of Medicine, Drew “Dr. Drew” Pinsky, M. D., best known for the hit reality series, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and the show, Dr. Drew On-Call, will offer insight on the adolescent

experience when there are signs of mental illness and conduct a “Conversation on the Couch,” with Liz. The Treasures of Texas Gala is an event that you won’t want to miss. Please consider a sponsorship or hosting a table to support mental health initiatives in our area. Your sponsorship support will help us to continue providing much needed behavioral health education, training, outreach and support to youth, families and communities. We encourage you to reserve your table or purchase your ticket today to ensure that you are prominently recognized in the invitation. Visit us online at http://www.mhahouston.org/ events/278/. If you prefer, you may contact Courtney Taylor at ctaylor@mhahouston.org or 713-523-8963 x 231 to make your pledge. We look forward to welcoming you and your guests to a spectacular evening.

Gala Chairs: Lisa Yoho Nancy Corbet Lisa Mellencamp Gala Committee: Suzan Magriso Samuels Anne Frischkorn Theresa Fassihi Tany James Stacy Johnson Sarah Nash Mary Parnham Susan Fordice President & CEO

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Being There For

CHILDREN More than 233,000 children in Harris County suffer silently with mental illness.1 Early identification and treatment of mental health disorders in youth is critical, but most children go undiagnosed until a crisis occurs, which can severely compromise their long-term ability to achieve a healthy and successful life. In order to help school districts better address these issues, Mental Health America of Greater Houston (MHA) leads the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative (SBHI), a community-wide initiative aimed at ensuring students are identified early and able to receive needed services. Two years ago, the initiative convened school district personnel, behavioral health providers, child-serving and education-related agencies, and parents to develop recommendations to improve the prevention, identification, and treatment of behavioral health issues among students.

and students, both groups lacked tools to help them more effectively recognize when young people were battling mental health and substance use issues. Ensuring that parents and teachers were equipped with that knowledge was considered key to promoting early intervention and improving outcomes for children down the line.

We do a good job preparing for natural disasters, which is important. But statistically speaking, the chances of a mental health crisis are far more likely to occur in the school setting. And what do we do to prepare for that? Nothing. Houston-Area School Psychologist

During the initial research phase of the SBHI, participants noted there were significant barriers in identifying students with mental and behavioral health problems. Despite the extensive time parents and teachers spent with their children

The international, evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program was determined to be the perfect choice for imparting the skills of identification, assistance, and referral to those on the “front lines.” Just as CPR helps people assist an individual having a heart

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350+ Educators Trained Since May 2014 attack, Mental Health First Aid helps trained individuals assist someone experiencing a mental health related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, participants learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for helping someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. Participants gain a basic understanding of different mental illnesses and addictions, how they can affect a person’s daily life, and what helps individuals experiencing these challenges get well. Specific topics covered include: • • • • • • •

Depression and Mood Disorders Anxiety Disorders Trauma Psychosis Self-harm and Cutting Suicide Substance Use Disorders

As part of the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative, Mental Health America of Greater Houston and its partners provide Mental Health First Aid training to assist schools in ensuring parents and teachers are equipped with knowledge and skills to promote early intervention and improve mental health outcomes for children. Since May of this year, Mental Health America of Greater Houston instructors have taught the course to more than 350 educators and community members. Armed with education and awareness, educators, parents, and others can prevent young people from sliding into darkness and assist them in obtaining help to lead happy and successful lives. For more information on the Harris County School Behavioral Health Initiative and Mental Health First Aid trainings for schools, businesses, agencies or organizations, contact Janet Pozmantier at sbhmanager@mhahouston.org.

Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.

.. .

Identify Understand Respond

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Annual Meeting

Theresa Redburn

Michael Jhin

and Reception

Mental Health America of Greater Houston The Hogg Foundation has awarded millions commemorated its 60th Anniversary with an of dollars in grants and scholarships to fulfill Annual Meeting and Reception on June 5th this vision and to continue the Hogg family’s at the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education legacy of public service. Dr. Octavio Martinez Center at Bayou Bend located on the historic Jr., Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation, River Oaks estate, and former home of our shared insight about some of the Foundation's founder Miss Ima work with MHA “A 60th Anniversary is something to Hogg.This special Houston and its funding evening celebrated leadership that supports celebrate. As we gathered at Miss Ima’s the organization’s many innovative beloved Bayou Bend, I recalled the words six-decades-long initiatives, programs, used to describe her unique ability to ‘enrich commitment to and projects in Houston enlighten and enlarge’ the lives of people shaping the mental and the state. The everywhere. Creating Mental Health America health of people Honorable Ed Emmett of Greater Houston was about providing and communities provided remarks on the in Greater Houston organization’s work in a voice for people who were hidden away and the shared Houston and the status and suffering in silence. We have made vision of mental of mental health in significant progress, but there is still more to health and hope Harris County. Bonnie do.” for all Houstonians Campbell, Director of inspired by Miss Bayou Bend Collection Susan Fordice, President and CEO Ima. and Gardens, spoke Mental Health America of Greater Houston on the legacy of Miss The evening began Ima Hogg and her with a reception and special admittance to the contributions to the community. Kilroy Center’s Hogg Family Legacy Exhibit and Media Wall. The celebration also recognized outgoing board chair, Theresa Redburn, who served as chair for The event, attended by board members, 2013-2014 and outgoing board members Sally community partners, elected officials, members Lehr, Dr. Ira Colby, and Connie Estopinal. and friends of MHA Houston, acknowledged the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health for its We also welcomed Michael Jhin as the leadership and longstanding support of strong, new board chair and new board members innovative partnerships in Houston and in Texas The Honorable Bill Burke, Harris County that have advanced the vision of our shared 189th Civil Court; Mathilde Leary, Director, founder, philanthropist Ima Hogg—to care for Healthcare Advisory – The Claro Group; the mental health and wellness of all people. Stephen H. Linder, Ph.D., Professor & Associate

Octavio Martinez

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Denis DeBakey, Octavio Martinez and Curt Mooney

Bonnie Campbell

Gwen and Ed Emmett

Brock Thomas

Judge Ed Emmett Curt Mooney

Tom Lord and Laura Cohen Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia Jackie St. Germain with Vicki and John Lange III

Henry Groppe Octavio Martinez with Univision

Stacy Johnson and Susan Fordice

Octavio Martinez, Susan Fordice, Theresa Redburn and Ira Colby

Director, Institute for Health Policy, UT School of Public Health; Sarah E. Nash, Sr. Staff Human Resources Consultant, Rosetta Resources; Diane Scardino, Assistant Vice President, Texas Children’s Hospital; Jair C. Soares, M.D., Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Dept., UT Medical School – Houston; and The Honorable Brock Thomas, Texas 338th Criminal District Court and volunteer judge for the Felony Mental Health Court were voted to serve from 20142016.

Mental Health America of Greater Houston appreciates St. Joseph Medical Center and Ethicus Management Company, LLC for providing generous event underwriting support. See more photos from the Celebrate 60! Annual Meeting and Reception: http://www.mhahouston.org/photos/set/20/

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Targeting Treatment for Veterans in the Justice System with Behavioral Health Disorders The Sequential Intercept Model and the Community Blueprint The Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative (VBHI) at Mental Health America of Greater Houston employs strategic and collaborative community engagement efforts in support of MHA Houston’s overall goal of shaping the mental health of people and communities. A primary component of VBHI is its Justice Involved Mentoring Program. This program is part of the jail diversion efforts of the Harris County Veterans Treatment Court, which aims to provide an alternative path to recovery and rehabilitation for veterans with no previous criminal record who have committed a felony.

mentoring program relies heavily on the Sequential Intercept Model, dealing specifically with Phase 4 and Phase 5. Phase 4 focuses on issues facing individuals who are reentering into society. This phase is particularly significant for the veteran population of the court system because they are often facing two different forms of reentry: reentry after an arrest as well as reentry after returning from deployment. A vital stage in Phase 4 is preparing for an individual’s transition in order to avoid gaps in care.

This movement relies on ideals of therapeutic justice and community-based action to aid the individuals in the veterans’ court system in a way that benefits them as well as the community as a whole.

“Having our peer mentors assist at veteran’s court enables us to establish a relationship with veterans who have recently entered the jail diversion program,” said Tony Solomon, director of the Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative. “Making veterans aware of our peer mentoring program early on is key to ensuring continued care throughout their probation and treatment program.”

In order to navigate local, state and federal systems and agencies in addition to community-based services, the VBHI

Phase 5 of the Sequential Intercept Model involves continued community care after the reentry stage. Connecting

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individuals with resources is an important step in this phase. The program addresses the specific needs of veterans in the Harris County court system by first assessing their needs and then identifying beneficial resources that are available to them. Once these steps are completed, mentors are able to connect veterans with the resources they need.

Blueprint which the program aims to satisfy.

Additionally, identifying resources that can specifically aid veterans is crucial to providing them with appropriate care. Another important component of this stage is the implementation a supervision strategy for individuals. The peer mentoring system is designed specifically for veterans, which creates an opportunity to support and encourage veterans as they progress through each phase of Harris County Veterans’ Treatment Court.

As part of the peer mentoring program, mentors are trained and educated on a variety of mental and behavioral health issues. Through these trainings, mentors are able to provide support and guidance to the veterans in the court program, which helps address the behavioral health aspect of the Community Blueprint. Additionally, all peer mentors are veterans who volunteer for the program. This satisfies the volunteerism facet of the Community Blueprint.

“Our mentors are veterans who have been trained in peer mentoring, mindfulness, and many other areas of care such as Mental Health First Aid and Domestic Abuse Prevention,” said Solomon. “Phase 5 also involves continued provision of resources to veterans as their needs change and develop throughout the program.” According to Solomon, in addition to relying on the Sequential Intercepts model as a guide, the mentoring program also follows the Community Blueprint by engaging all eight aspects of community involvement. Ensuring employment, housing, and financial aid is a primary goal of the program because deficits in these areas can often be the most impairing on a daily basis. Through connections to veteranfriendly organizations and resources throughout the city, the program works with the court system to connect veterans to supportive services regarding housing if they are currently homeless, employment if they are having difficulty finding a job, and financial aid through application for benefits they are entitled to. Education is another important feature of the Community

Sequential Intercept Model

By informing veterans of the education opportunities available through the Department of Veterans Affairs aand the State of Texas, we hope to ensure that veterans and their families are able to receive education benefits.

Finally, reintegration and family strength are two of the most important points of the Community Blueprint with regards to long-lasting, positive outcomes. The peer mentoring program frequently hosts social events for mentors and mentees to bond and support one another through any challenging times they may experience. These events are also open to veterans’ families and friends, a population that is frequently overlooked, but plays a significant role in each participant’s reintegration process. By following the Sequential Intercept Model and the Community Blueprint, our program addresses and fulfills some of the needs of the veterans in our program by providing them with transitional resources and community care throughout their time in the veterans treatment court program. Following these models helps ensure that our program is not only supporting veterans in every way possible, but also that the support is part of an evidence-based system that can be replicated and generalized by other programs throughout the country.

For more information on the Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative at Mental Health America of Greater Houston is its Justice Involved Mentoring Program contact the director, Tony Solomon at tsolomon@mhahouston.org.

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Helping First-Time

Military Veteran Offenders Community-Justice System Partnerships Vital to Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Issues Among Veterans Harris County Veterans Treatment Court is the first court of its kind in Texas. The court first opened its doors on Veterans Day 2009, after the 81st Legislature authorized a bill to allow individual counties to open and run their individual Veterans Treatment Courts. The Veterans Treatment Court system in Texas allows counties to establish their Veterans Treatment Courts in either district court (which sees felonies) or county court (which sees misdemeanors), Harris County is able to see both felony and misdemeanor cases. The veterans court system is a jail diversion program that focuses on recovery rather than incarceration. This program saves taxpayer money by keeping veterans out of the jail

system, putting them through a treatment and recovery program instead. This is accomplished through various mental health and substance abuse treatment as well as regular face time with the judge, prosecutor, and their lawyers. The Harris County Veterans Treatment Court program takes two years to complete, on average, and consists of four phases. The veterans are expected to show up to their dockets, which are held the first and third Wednesday of each month, where their progress is monitored and they each meet individually with the presiding Judge Marc Carter. The mission of Harris County Veterans Treatment Court is “to increase access to mental health and addictions treatment

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for those veterans with felony and misdemeanor offenses by diverting veterans directly into VA treatment, reducing jail time, costs, and criminal recidivism, while improving mental health recovery and successful reentry into the community.” Program participants are expected to “assess at medium to high-risk with high needs due to a range of factors--servicerelated PTSD, damaged friendships and family relationships due to their time in the service, chronic unemployment and homelessness, history of domestic violence, substance abuse history and other mental health issues.

Court in 2003 by Governor Rick Perry and is the first and only judge of the Harris County Veterans Treatment Court.

The Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative (VBHI) at Mental Health America of Greater Houston is the official partner of Harris County Veterans Treatment Court, coordinating the community resources and mentoring for veterans in the treatment program. The mentoring program began in February 2014 and VBHI is responsible for recruiting, training, and managing the peer mentors. Current partners in this endeavor include the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Steve Duson, Interface-Samaritan Center Administration Medical Center, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, InterfaceSamaritan Center, Lone Star Veterans Association, U.S. Vets-Houston, Grace After Fire, American GI Forum, Military Veteran Peer Network and the Texas Veterans Commission.

When veterans agree to enter the Veterans Treatment Court program, they are agreeing to an intense, time consuming program dedicated to treating their issues and holding the veterans accountable during all phases of the program. Compliance on all requirements is expected of the veterans, who communicate regularly with the court staff, which in Harris County consists of the judge, coordinator, her assistant, a probation officer, and two court appointed attorneys to handle all the cases. Upon completion of the program, veterans will have their offense expunged from their record. “The men and women who complete this rigorous two-year program are doing the hard work to reclaim their lives,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston.

While there are a few instances where a veteran has gone through the program and ended up back in the criminal justice system, the Veterans Treatment Court system in Texas has been a huge success, helping hundreds of veterans seek the help they need while also getting them back on their feet. Harris County can enroll up to 64 veterans in the program at any given time. The program is completely voluntary and the veteran can be dropped from the program at any time. Judge Marc Carter, the presiding Judge over Harris County’s Veterans Treatment Court is himself a veteran who served in the Army in the 1980’s. He was appointed to the 228th District

Concurrently, VBHI is developing the training program for volunteer veteran mentors. Each will receive training in suicide prevention and intervention, peer to peer mentoring, family resiliency, domestic violence awareness and battery intervention training, emotional intelligence, and more. These trainings officially certify peer mentors in areas that directly educate and provide resources to veterans in the program. Additionally, mentors and mentees and their families and/or caregivers will participate in activities and events throughout the program such as museum trips, sporting events, movie nights, a holiday family-style dinner, and other events that improve the bonds between the mentors and the mentees. These gatherings will foster a sense of community which will improve the overall effectiveness of the program. “The program has had fourteen graduates since the treatment court started,” said Robert Pechukas, program manager for VBHI. “We need more peer mentors to volunteer to help fellow veterans participating in the program.” To volunteer or to get your organzation involved, contact Robert Pechukas, Program Manager at rpechukas@ mhahouston.org.

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Preventing Violence In the Homes and Lives of Military Families Service members that are returning or have already returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may arrive home with serious mental health conditions and injuries that increase relationship stress, marital strain, and family violence. The Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative (VBHI) at Mental Health America of Greater Houston hosted Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) who delivered a comprehensive training pilot to address domestic violence and battery intervention in the area’s military and veteran community. The training, developed especially for individuals who serve the military and veteran community as outreach coordinators and mentors, focuses on the dynamics of domestic violence; how to identify warning signs for domestic violence in military communities; intervention tools that focus on offender accountability and victim safety and appropriate resources and referrals to provide supportive accountability to assist families of veterans. 12 - Mental Health America of Greater Houston • www.mhahouston.org


“Combat stress, trauma and injuries can sometimes create the perfect storm for domestic violence in military families.” “Combat stress, trauma and injuries can sometimes create the perfect storm for domestic violence in military families. While these circumstances may contribute to the escalation of violence, they are not causal factors. Domestic abuse in any form—physical, emotional, or sexual—is never okay,” said Chastidy Patterson, LPC, Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) Director at AVDA. “We are committed to training front line personnel who work with or care for these individuals and families to identify signs of trouble and provide the tools and support they need to stop this type of violence.”

“This is an important component in our work,” said T'Liza Kiel, veteran volunteer coordinator at Gulf Coast Center. “This also helps strengthen the military family. Resilient and empowered families mean stronger communities.”

“Domestic violence among the veteran population is a complex problem that is receiving increased attention. We want to be part of the solution,” said VBHI director, Tony Solomon. “As a liaison and advocate for the military and veteran community in this area, we are committed to bringing together organizations and individuals who see these service members and their families, training them to understand military culture and giving them the tools and resources they need to help these individuals and families rebuild safe and healthy relationships.” Solomon and the Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative are working with organizations such as Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, Grace After Fire, InterfaceSamaritan Counseling Centers and the Military Veteran Peer Network, all of which are aimed at improving the response to and prevention of domestic violence and mental health issues among military service members and veterans.

Chastidy Patterson

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Connecting Texas Veterans Texas is home to over 1.5 million veterans with about 300,000 residing in and around Harris County making our region one of the most veteran-populous areas in the nation. Veterans and their families live, work, and enrich the communities in Harris County yet knowing how to identify resources to help with some of life’s challenges may prove daunting for a number of veterans and their families. With that, there is an organization in Texas that was formed to provide peer mentorship to the veterans who are in need of assistance but don’t know where to go for help. Local veterans, returning military and their families are often at a loss as to where to turn, but through the community coordination and collaboration we are addressing local problems in our area by harnessing and integrating existing resources or creating them-for the benefit of our veterans, serving military, Active or Reserve Component, and their families.

“Peer mentors commit to having each other’s back.” --Peer Mentor Duane Perez and Service Dog Brennen

The Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) is a statewide organization made up of military veterans, service members, and family members dedicated to establishing a community of trust and camaraderie. “The Military Veteran Peer Network works with partners in communities around the state to train veterans and veteran serving organizations in peer support and mental health awareness so we can care, act and advocate appropriately,” said Tim Keesling, MVPN assistant state coordinator. “MHA Houston is a very proud partner in our Military Veteran Peer Network which is funded by HB2392,” said Tony Solomon, Director 14 - Mental Health America of Greater Houston • www.mhahouston.org


of the Houston-Harris CountyVeterans Behavioral Health Initiative at Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “As the regional coordinator for the MVPN, we work very closely with our local Veterans Administration, City of Houston Office of Veterans Affairs, Harris County Veterans Treatment Court, United Way’s 2-1-1, American GI Forum, the Texas Veterans Commission, and elected officials to meet the behavioral health and transitional needs of local veterans and their families. We also help to coordinate veteran peer to peer outreach programs for our area Veteran Service Organizations including Lone Star Veterans Association, Grace After Fire, and US Vets-Houston.”

Strong Connections Power New Veterans Mobile App

The focus of the MVPN is peer to peer support, mental health awareness, and training. This is a volunteer led mission, with veterans dedicated to giving back to their communities through mentorship and guidance, as well as assisting veterans with access to available services and resources. This peer led mentorship program has become a benefit to both the veteran and civilian communities. The veterans benefit through guidance from people who were in their shoes at one point; the civilian population is able to learn more about the veteran community through the classes that the MVPN teaches. There have been multiple studies conducted on the benefits veterans gain through peer to peer mentorship; the MVPN understands this and works 24/7 to ensure that no veteran is left behind. This is possible due to the TexVet App, which is free and available for download on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. In using the TexVet App, veterans have access the Connect with Texas Veterans line, which puts the caller in touch with a member of the MVPN, who is available to speak day or night. “We hope to increase outreach to the community and to increase usage of the Texas Veterans Application,” said Robert Pechuckas, program manager of the Houston-Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative at Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “We are also working to get more peers and organizations trained and volunteering to support justice involved veterans, the MVPN and the Harris County Veterans Court mentoring team. There are 38 MVPN coordinators throughout the state, and over 550 volunteer mentors with the Gulf Coast Chapter that represents Houston and Galveston. Pechukas serves as the Houston area coordinator while T’Liza Kiel coordinates the Galveston MVPN. In addition to Keesling, the leadership at the state level includes Sean Hanna, MVPN State Coordinator. and State Training Manager Tish McCullough.

The Texas Veterans App is a mobile application designed to provide U.S. Military Veterans easy access to the Veterans Crisis Line, Hotline for Women Veterans, Connect with Texas Veterans, and Texas Veterans Portal.

The MVPN works to ensure that veterans from all walks of life are taken care of and that no veteran goes without the help that he or she may need. Houston is one of the best places in the nation for veterans to call home and MHA Houston and the MVPN are working hard to make sure that no one who has served their country is forgotten.

The Veterans Crisis Line and Hotline for Women Veterans are nationally supported help lines. The Connect with Texas Veterans option provides a number for users to call and request help with connecting to other veterans within their geographical area of Texas. The Texas Veterans Portal option allows a user to easily access additional online resources located at http://veterans.portal.texas.gov/en/Pages/default. aspx .

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2014 Veterans Mental Health Summit Addressing the Wellness of Veterans and Families Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte

Director of the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC, Adam Walmus

Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez

Meeting the mental health care needs of veterans and their families is among one of the highest priorities of the VA, communities and organizations in the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Region. veterans, family members and Veteran-serving organizations from Harris, Galveston, Montgomery, Fort Bend and nearby counties attended the 2014 Veterans Mental Health Summit on August 15, 2014. The one-day event held on the campus of the University of St. Thomas highlighted how veteran-serving and nonprofit organizations, schools, companies, and local, state and federal government agencies in the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Region work together to provide resources, build or sustain collaborative efforts, and identify additional support for the mental health and wellness of veterans and their families. The summit began with a presentation of colors and “A Soldier’s Story” re-enactment by the Buffalo Soldiers and remarks by Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, Adam Walmus, BA, MHA, MA, F.A.C.H.E., Director of the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC and Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez, Council Member, District H. Attendees also participated in breakout

sessions focused on navigating the Veterans Health Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration, as well as the impact of peer support, family services, employment services, faith communities, and local community resources.

Buffalo Soldiers

A panel discussion with veterans and veteran’s family members examined some of the critical issues and evolving needs of the Veteran community. The 2014 Veterans Mental Health Summit was a collaborative, community event between the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, City of Houston - Office of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, Gulf Coast Center and Hope for the Warriors®.

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Dr. Laura Marsh, Tony Solomon and Chrystal Thompson

Buffalo Solidiers Reenactment

Reda Hicks, DeDe Springer, Jaimie Meza, Donald Bay, Brian Seymour and Bill Kelly

Dr. Laura Marsh

Perry Jefferies

T’Liza Kiel

Brent Arnspiger

Bill Kelly, Brian Seymour, Donald Bay, DeDe Springer, Jaimie Meza and Reda Hicks

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Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Organizations Honored at Veterans Mental Health Summit There are hundreds of individuals and organizations in and around the Texas Gulf Coast Region that share the common goal of providing high quality resources, information and services to service members, veterans and their families. Together with the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, City of Houston - Office of Veterans Affairs, Gulf Coast Center and Hope for the Warriors® and the Greater Houston veterans community proudly salutes the following with the inaugural Excellence in Veterans Assistance Award for the many contributions they are making to create a community of care and wellness

for military veterans, their families and communities in the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Region: Interface Samaritan, Kevin Barber and John Boerstler (Veteran Energy), GySgt. Eric Wilson (Wounded Warrior Regiment), Martha Alexander and Rosa Winfrey (Compassionate Touch), Sophie Foran and Billy Piper (Bay Area Council on Drugs and Alcohol), Linda Buechter (Brazos Place), Santa Maria Hostel, Career and Recovery, American GI Forum, Sam Alix (The Mission Continues, Leigh Ann O’Neil Henderson (Tetra Tech) and Gary Henderson (Houston Association of Guaranteed Government Lenders), Captain Dave McCabe (Sailing Angel) and Cynthia Chaffee (Quilts of Valor). The award, presented at the 2014 Veterans Mental Health Summit in August, has been given to individuals and organizations in the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Region that have made significant contributions to Veteran reintegration efforts. It also recognizes those whose efforts have inspired patriotism, provided service to others, and offered hope to veterans and/or their families while demonstrating collaboration, leadership, and integrity. The 2014 Excellence in Veterans Assistance Award is a collaborative, community event between the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, City of Houston - Office of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, Gulf Coast Center and Hope for the Warriors®.

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Bay Area Council on Drugs and Alcohol with Dr. Laura Marsh

Santa Maria Hostel with Dr. Laura Marsh

Gary Henderson of Houston Association of Guaranteed Government Lenders and Leigh Ann O’Neil Henderson of Tetra Tech with Dr. Laura Marsh Marcello Uriegas, American GI Forum with Dr. Laura Marsh

Committed to Veterans and th eir Families. For more photo highlights of the 2014 Excellence in Veterans Assistance Award, visit Mental Health America of Greater Houston online at http://www.mhahouston.org/photos/set/latest/. Mental Health America of Greater Houston • www.mhahouston.org - 19


SHARING FAITH.

Sharing Hope.

Dynamic Opportunities for Houston’s Faith Communities Compassionate Houston and co-sponsors including Mental Health America of Greater Houston convened at Christ Church Cathedral in May with individuals representing multi-faith communities in the Greater Houston area for the mental health forum, “Breaking the Silence! Part II: Sharing Hope - Dynamic Opportunities for Houston’s Faith Communities.” This forum is a follow-up event which focuses on communities of faith developing a ‘Mental Health Ministry’.

The Reverend James C. McGill Imam Mohammed Zafarullah

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Tim Keesling

Faith and community-based organizations are at the forefront supporting military families and Veterans. At this event, Tim Keesling, Assistant State Coordinator of the Military Veteran Peer Network, the largest peer network in the state of Texas, presented Military Cultural Sensitivity in an Inter-Faith Environment. This presentation offered an overview of military culture to inform and educate faith leaders as they prepare to address the needs of military Veterans and their families in their congregations. The presentation also reviewed moral injury and soul wounds that result from war and military service. To facilitate faith organizations in their efforts to support individuals and families affected by mental illnesses, NAMI Greater Houston introduced Sharing Hope, an interactive presentation to describe a program used to partner with faith organizations and provide

The Reverend Betty Conrad Adam

Sally Lehr

Rev. Dr. Robert M. Gilmore, Sr.

mental health education and support in environments where mental illness is not generally discussed.

Compassionate Houston, sponsor of this event, is a collaborative, humanitarian organization formed by Houstonians to celebrate and nurture the compassionate culture in Greater Houston. Co-sponsors included City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, NAMI Greater Houston, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, Union Baptist Association, Christ Church Cathedral, Justice & Peace Council and Real Urban Ministry, Inc.

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Listen to the Audio Recap of the Mental Health Panel Discussion: https://www.texastribune.org/2014/10/02/2014-tribunefest-audio-from-the-health-care-track/ 22 - Mental Health America of Greater Houston • www.mhahouston.org


Texas Tribune Festival Talks Veterans Mental Health

From September 19-21, on The University of Texas at Austin campus, more than 200 speakers discussed some of the state's and nation's most pressing issues: public and higher education, immigration, health care, transportation, energy, the environment, criminal justice and - new this year - government transparency. Tony Solomon, Director of the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative at Mental Health America of Greater Houston participated in the panel, “Health Care: What's Next for Mental Health?” moderated by Alana Rocha, Reporter for The Texas Tribune. He served as a panelist along side Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, State Senator and Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Joan Huffman, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services David Lakey and President and CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Tom Luce.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Tony Solomon, Director of the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative, and Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services David Lakey

Listen to the Audio Recap of the Mental Health Panel Discussion: https://www.texastribune.org/2014/10/02/2014-tribunefest-audio-from-the-health-care-track/ Mental Health America of Greater Houston • www.mhahouston.org - 23


of Greater Houston

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit #8297 Houston, Texas

2211 Norfolk, Suite 810 Houston, Texas 77098

www.mhahouston.org Michael Jhin, Chair Susan Fordice, President and CEO Anne Eldredge, Vice President of Finance and CFO Traci Patterson, Director of Communications Alejandra Posada, Director of Education & Training Bill Kelly, Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs Tony Solomon, Director, Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative Alix CaDavid, Director of Grants and Research Robert Pechukas, Program Manager, Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative Tiffany Ross, Manager, Education and Training

Find us on Facebook: Mental Health America of Greater Houston Follow us on Twitter: @MHAHouston

To All Veterans, Service Members and Families of the U.S. Armed Forces ̶

We Salute You and Thank You for Your Service to America.

The Mental Health Advocate - Fall 2014  

On behalf of Mental Health America of Greater Houston Inc. we present you with the latest edition of the Mental Health Advocate. This issue...

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