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Mental health crises are costly for individuals and our local systems. They can be draining emotionally and financially, and can result in life-threatening situations. A mental health screening is the first step to linking at-risk individuals with treatment options before a mental health issue becomes a mental health crisis.

 

Read more in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.

September 20, 2018

Anyone Can Save a Life

Suicide is preventable, yet it is one of the leading causes of death in our state. It affects all of us – regardless of race, ethnicity, age or gender. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, an opportunity to promote awareness and share resources to help save lives.

 

Read more in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.

August 23, 2018

A Milestone Moment

Over the past 25 years, we have witnessed changes and innovations that have improved health outcomes for people living with mental health issues, substance use disorders and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities. Changes in attitudes and policies have created a more progressive system for the people that we exist to serve. Integral Care has grown in this time to serve more than 30,000 people each year through more than 30 programs with a workforce of nearly 900 people. Leading this large network of dedicated and experienced staff is our CEO, David Evans. This month marks David’s 25th anniversary as CEO and we are thrilled to recognize this milestone.

 

Read more in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.

Integral Care is honored to be one of the few Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) pilot sites in the state of Texas. Through a rigorous application process, Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) selected us as 1 of only 8 sites (among 25 interested centers) that exhibited the highest levels of readiness to participate in the CCBHC certification process. Over the course of a planning year, Integral Care prepared to become a CCBHC through continued partnership with HHSC staff, and in October 2016 received HHSC’s certification.

 

Becoming a CCBHC pilot site has meant adopting new national guidelines that standardize operations for mental health, substance use, community based and physical health care services. CCBHC standards promote better access to high quality care for people with serious mental illness, those with severe substance use disorders, children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance and those with co-occurring mental, substance use or physical health disorders. The CCBHC model puts an emphasis on the provision of 24-hour crisis care, culturally competent care for veterans, utilization of evidence-based practices, care coordination and the advancement of the integration of behavioral health and physical health care. As early adopters of CCBHC standards, Integral Care is positioned to help guide the nationwide policy.

 

CCBHCs are the future of care delivery in our evolving health care ecosystem. By working within the CCBHC model, we are positioning Integral Care for better funding opportunities at the federal, state, and local level. In March, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill allocating $100 million to CCBHCs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will be distributing those funds via a grants process sometime next month. New CCBHC funding is anticipated to make a big difference in the area of treatment for opioid disorders.

 

Ultimately, operating as a CCBHC improves care delivery and thus improves the overall health of the people we serve.

Integral Care is excited to announce our FY17 Annual Report. Learn about the work we did last year to support adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Integral Care has released a brand new directory of services. This directory provides descriptions of Integral Care’s many programs and services, plus a map of our locations and other helpful info for our clients and community. Look for English and Spanish versions in our clinics next week.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently announced that 14 local communities will receive grant funding to help reduce recidivism, arrest and incarceration of individuals living with mental illness through Senate Bill 292. Integral Care received preliminary notice of an award anticipated to be $2.5M on an annual basis.

 

Integral Care in collaboration with Travis County, Central Health and the City of Austin proposed to establish a new Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team linked to permanent supportive housing in our community. FACT is an intensive, multi-disciplinary team-based intervention that stops the revolving door of incarceration for individuals living with serious mental illness. FACT will serve individuals who have been arrested for minor offenses or felonies as well as experienced recurring and lengthy in-patient mental health hospitalizations, most of whom are living homeless in our community. The FACT team will use their unique expertise to serve 90 of the most frequent users of criminal justice, which is expected to reduce the overutilization of emergency services, jail visits and inpatient hospital stays.

 

Nationally, 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year. In Travis County, 25-30% of individuals in our jail system receive treatment for a mental illness. When individuals are unable to receive the mental health treatment and care they need, symptoms and conditions can worsen. Once a person leaves jail, they may not have access to health care and may have a difficult time finding a job due to a criminal record – both of which can impact access to housing and start the cycle of homelessness, emergency room usage and incarceration once again.

 

The FACT community-based treatment team will offer access to mental health care, counseling, medications, family education, primary health care, peer support and permanent supportive housing. Once an individual is housed, the FACT team will provide ongoing wrap-around services to support improved health and well-being in order to keep people in housing and out of the criminal justice system.

 

Please contact Elizabeth Baker, Integral Care’s Practice Manager of ACT and Specialty Services, at Elizabeth.Baker@IntegralCare.org with any questions.

All Integral Care non-essential services, including our Dove Springs, Rundberg, E. 2nd and Riverside clinics, will be closed on Tuesday, January 16th due to dangerous weather conditions.

Essential services will continue to operate under normal business hours. Essential services include Integral Care’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline and Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES). Please note: PES is now located at 1165 Airport Blvd, Austin, 78702Tuesday hours are 8am to 10pm.

If you need help now, please call Integral Care 24/7 at 512-472-HELP (4357).

Integral Care’s Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) moved to a new location – the Richard E. Hopkins Behavioral Health Building, located at 1165 Airport Blvd., Austin, 78702. The new location has separate waiting rooms for adults and families with children as well as plenty of free parking. It is also accessible by 3 Cap Metro bus lines.

 

PES hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, and Saturday, Sunday and Holidays from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. PES is a walk-in urgent care clinic that supports adults, children and families experiencing a mental health crisis.

A new mental health clinic opening this week, jointly operated by Integral Care and the Dell Medical School, will serve people with low incomes who are experiencing bipolar disorder.

 

The collaboration is part of the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, launched last year through a $50 million gift from James and Miriam Mulva and the Mulva Family Foundation. The new clinic is in the Health Transformation Building of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.

 

The clinic serves people living with the most complex mental health conditions — the population served by Integral Care, the local mental health authority serving the Travis County community since 1967. Integral Care will provide expert therapists and other mental health professionals to work in the clinic, as well as ongoing treatment and care to patients through other Integral Care services and programs.

 

“This is a unique partnership between academia and community-based mental health care,” said David Evans, Integral Care’s CEO. “Integral Care and Dell Medical School are leveraging their combined skill sets, expertise and knowledge to help individuals experiencing complex mental health issues to improve their health.”

 

The collaboration is unique among the clinics that have been established so far under UT Health Austin, the school’s clinical practice: in the new clinic, the practice team is led by Dell Med faculty physicians and Integral Care professionals. Providers will use the team-based, data-driven models and processes employed by UT Health Austin’s existing musculoskeletal, neurological and women’s health clinics. These innovative approaches are designed to increase value to patients by improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

 

UT Health Austin plans to offer similar services for other patients with bipolar disorder, including those with private health insurance and referred by outside providers, starting in the spring.

 

“The goal is to improve patient outcomes, regardless of a person’s ability to pay,” said Dr. Stephen Strakowski, chair of Dell Med’s Department of Psychiatry. “This community has a tremendous need for more mental health care. This collaboration with Integral Care will allow us to start providing that care as quickly as possible, and we’re looking forward to expanding services next year as we grow.”

 

Patients in the clinic will see a team of mental health specialists — a Dell Medical School doctor who is an expert in bipolar disorder, as well as Integral Care licensed therapists and a licensed vocational nurse who provide ongoing mental health support throughout their care. The team works together closely to provide the best possible mental health care in order to support the health and well-being of each patient.

 

“The clinic is primarily focused on helping people who are experiencing acute mental health episodes — we want to stabilize them in the clinic to support their recovery,” said Dr. Jorge Almeida, who directs the clinic. “Providing this specialized service ensures people get the right care at the right time and in the right location, which reduces the strain on emergency rooms and hospitals and improves patient health outcomes. Once patients are stable, they will seamlessly transition into Integral Care’s excellent community-based programs, helping them heal over the long term.”

 

In addition to therapy, case management and nursing, Integral Care provides a full array of services to patients, including crisis intervention and substance use disorder treatment.

 

“This is an opportunity to build our community-based workforce,” said Dr. James Baker, Integral Care’s systems chief medical officer and a member of Dell Med’s psychiatry faculty. “For the first time in Travis County, medical students and residents have the opportunity to experience community-based mental health care. Our hope is that some will be inspired to stay and provide this crucial care in our community.”

 

For more information, contact:
Steve Scheibal, Dell Medical School, 512-495-5062 (w), 512-762-8808 (c)
Anne Nagelkirk, Integral Care, 512-440-4034 (w), 512-468-3803 (c)

The HOST team is a partnership between Integral Care, the Austin Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, Downtown Austin Community Court and the Downtown Austin Alliance. An approved increase of funding will cover the cost of a certified peer specialist/peer recovery coach and allow more funding to address immediate needs, like obtaining official ID documents and bus passes.

Find out more in this report from KXAN.

“Mental health services in Austin ISD is an essential part of educating the whole child,” said Tracy Spinner, district director of health services. “We are thankful for dedicated partners like Integral Care who have stepped up to continue services for our students at 16 campus mental health centers. While we are one step closer to supporting our students, the need for additional funds is still present and we are continuing to meet with potential partners to fully fund these services.”

The Austin school board Monday night approved an agreement with Integral Care to keep 16 campus mental health centers open this school year. Read more in the Statesman.

U.S. News and World Report shined a spotlight on Integral Care’s integrated care services. The article features an Integral Care client who lives with bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorders and benefits from integrated mental and physical health care as well as wellness services. Our client says, “It has really built me up to be a better woman.” The story also features our partners Dell Medical School and CommUnityCare.

Integral Care’s Systems Chief Medical Officer James Baker wrote an article for this month’s TexasMedicine about the ways our state can focus on prevention and early detection of mental illness.

 

By James G. Baker, MD, MBA

 

It is far too common in psychiatry for diagnosis to first come in a crisis visit to the emergency department, the equivalent of diabetes being first diagnosed as ketoacidosis. That is why I am very persuaded by the argument that we should focus on early detection and treatment in mental health, just as in other medical specialties.

 

What if our medical association and our local medical societies took the lead in the development and implementation of strategic population mental health initiatives across the state focused on early detection and intervention of mental illnesses? Our shared vision could be a statewide population mental health initiative with four parts:

 

Routine screening for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress as a part of every outpatient clinic visit in Texas. Mental health screening could ― and should! ― be just as routine as temperature, pulse, and blood pressure screens for every adult in Texas, whether care is provided in the public or private sector. As an example, The University of Texas Southwestern’s Madhukar Trivedi, MD, has an iPad software program, VitalSIgn6, that screens for depression and can be modified to screen for other common mental health challenges.

 

Routine substance-use screening as part of physical exams for every teenager and adult in Texas. The NIDA Modified Assist (for adults) and the CRAFFT (for adolescents) are examples of quick, easy-to-use screening tools. Significant reductions in alcohol and substance use can result when screening is followed by a nurse or social worker offering brief, evidence-based intervention at the same doctor visit.

 

Easy access to evidence-based, first-episode psychosis treatment and research protocol for every newly diagnosed patients in Texas. Early and aggressive treatment in programs like RA1SE have been shown to improve markedly the outcome of patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders that include psychotic symptoms. Its availability currently is limited, but detection and early treatment are just as important with schizophrenia as they are with cancer.

 

Easy access to mental health first-aid training for everyone in Texas. Mental Health First Aid is a training course started in Australia 15 years ago that is now available statewide for anyone in the community, including first responders. The training reduces stigma, and, just like CPR, Mental Health First Aid has the potential to save lives. Our goal could be to train 750,000 people statewide.

 

Perhaps our medical association and local medical societies could partner with medical school departments of psychiatry, with local mental health authorities, and with local and statewide philanthropic organizations to demonstrate quick and quantifiable success in our four-part, population mental health initiative. Armed with that data, we could approach policymakers with strategies to improve access and quality of mental-health and substance-use services to everyone in our state, especially to the poor.

 

The potential impact on our patients and our communities ― and on each one of us ― is huge. As a mother, father, son, or daughter, you are just as likely to have family affected by mental health as by cancer ― up to one in three Texans has a mental health and/or substance use disorder. As a taxpayer, you help fund at least $1.4 billion in emergency department costs from mental illnesses presenting in crisis.

 

Each of us now knows that mental illness is medical illness, just like diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular illness. And each of us knows that contemporary mental health care is rooted in science. Next, we must insist upon prevention, early intervention, and aggressive treatment for people who endure these potentially devastating disorders. When all that is required for early detection is a couple of questions asked while taking a pulse, then collectively we must insist that those questions get asked.

 

James G. Baker, MD, MBA, is a member of the Texas Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health. He also serves as associate chair of clinical integration and services in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and as systems chief medical officer for integral care, the community mental health center for Austin and Travis County. Dr. Baker is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a recipient of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Exemplary Psychiatrist Award as well as the Mental Health America of Greater Dallas Pamela Blumenthal Memorial Award.  

 

The commentary article was originally published on the Texas Medical Association’s website here as part of TMA Publication TexasMedicine February 2018.

The Austin Chronicle highlighted how Integral Care works closely with community partners to support the mental health needs of Travis County, particularly those experiencing a mental health crisis. “Anyone can experience a mental health crisis,” said Laura Wilson-Slocum, Integral Care Practice Administrator. This article explores the variety of crisis services Integral Care provides our community – the Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care provides short term crisis care in an overnight setting, our Mobile Crisis Outreach Team co-responds with the Austin Police Department and EMS to provide community-bases crisis care, and our Psychiatric Emergency Services provides mental health urgent care seven days  a week. Read the article here.

November 15, 2017

24/7 Crisis Helpline

Spectrum News recently highlighted the impact of our 24/7 Crisis Helpline. They interviewed Ca’Sonya, an Austinite who used the Helpline to get through her darkest hour. After Ca’Sonya lost her husband, she decided to make a life-changing phone call to get the support she needed. “The hardest step is just starting picking up the phone,” said Nicole Warren, Integral Care Helpline Program Manager. “Once you pick up that phone, you’ll find someone who is passionate and dedicated to what we do here.”

Integral Care’s Helpline provides around the clock crisis support and access to all of Integral Care’s programs and services for adults and children, including appointments and billing. Our Helpline recently added free interpretation services in 15 language to meet the needs of our growing and changing community. We have trained medical interpreters who speak Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Korean, Filipino, Russian, German, French, Urdu, Farsi, Japanese, Hindi, Gujarati, and Napali. Learn more about the Helpline.

August 30, 2017

During a traumatic event, mental health support is more important than ever. KVUE covered the developing story of Hurricane Harvey and its emotional effect on evacuees and first responders. “It’s critically important for mental health professionals to be available to those in need, to give guidance and offer a sense of safety and security,” said Dr. Kathleen Casey, Integral Care’s Director of Clinical Innovation and Development.

Read More

August 8, 2017

KXAN highlighted Integral Care’s first of its kind Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. The Herman Center will offer the right level of care at the right time, reduce cost of care and improve health outcomes for patients. “The idea is most mental health crisis can resolve in the first 48 hours of them beginning, so we want to quickly stabilize people so we can get them on that path to recovery and back out into the community as soon as possible, avoiding a hospital stay which tends to be lengthier and more expensive,” said Laura Slocum, an Integral Care Practice Administrator. The Herman Center is currently only accepting internal referrals from Integral Care crisis services. It’s not appropriate for walk-ins or self-referrals. To learn more about the Herman Center, click here.

Read More

July 29, 2017

KAGS in Bryan/College Station recently did a story on suicide hotlines, featuring Integral Care’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline. Nicole Warren, Integral Care’s Crisis Helpline Program Manager, says: “Getting people connected with supports is so important.” If you need help, please call us 24/7 at 512-472-HELP (4357).

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June 8, 2017

Integral Care was recently featured in a Spectrum News story about the success of HOST, the Homelessness Outreach Street Team. HOST is a partnership of Integral Care, the Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Downtown Austin Community Court. HOST was launched by the Austin Police Department with significant support from Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie Tovo and the Downtown Austin Alliance.  Integral Care brings the mental health and substance use disorder expertise to the team and is also pivotal in providing access to housing.

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Tables and Sponsorships are still on sale.

 

Join us this year as we honor Dr. Clay Johnston and highlight the partnership between Dell Medical School and Integral Care.

 

Funds raised this year will go to provide the latest evidence-based best practices that are the critical tools for building recovery for persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

 

New Milestones Foundation raises funds to support Integral Care in meeting the needs of adults, families, and children in our community with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities. We accomplish this by bridging the gaps between what government funds and what enhances Integral Care programs and services and between what we have today in practice and what might be promising practices for the future.

 

Tickets to event

 

Integral Care is now offering weekly Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) classes in Austin and Georgetown. MHFA is a one-day training that teaches people how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or showing signs of mental illness or substance use disorder. Thanks to a grant from the St. David’s Foundation, no one will be turned away. However, a donation of $10 is welcome.

MHFA can save a life, just like CPR can save someone who can’t breathe or is having a heart attack. Register today.

July 17, 2017

On July 17th, over 100 people attended the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. Senators, Representatives, City Council members, law enforcement, our partners St. David’s Foundation and Central Health as well as members of the community were all present to mark this historic occasion.

The Herman Center will provide short term, emergency psychiatric crisis care for adults in Travis County. It will support our community by providing an alternative to incarceration and in-patient care, and will offer the opportunity to ensure that individuals whose primary issue is mental health have an appropriate and safe place to be stabilized, assessed and treated. The goal is to quickly resolve the immediate crisis so the individual can return home or transfer to another Integral Care residential program for ongoing support and recovery. The Herman Center offers the right level of care at the right time while reducing the cost of care and improving health outcomes for patients. Primary referrals to the Herman Center will come through law enforcement and health care providers like emergency rooms. The Herman Center is not suitable for walk-ins or self referrals. To learn more about the services of the Center, click here.

Thank you to all of our community partners, especially St. David’s Foundation and Central Health, for making this much needed service available in the community. St. David’s Foundation funded the project with a grant totaling almost $9M and Central Health made the land available via a low cost (virtually free) long-term lease, valued at $1.2M.

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