Read more in our monthly newsletter, Transparencies.
April 19, 2019
The 86th Texas Legislative session is in full swing, with less than two months remaining. With over 7,500 bills filed, legislators are working hard to address a wide range of issue areas – from substance use disorder to mental health in schools. We’re following the progress at the Capitol and here’s the news worth noting.
Read more in our monthly newsletter, Transparencies.
March 27, 2019
Travis County’s robust economy has not come without its challenges. Our recent growth is greater than nearly any other large metro area in the country, and our human services infrastructure must innovate to keep pace. Of particular priority is increasing accessible and affordable treatment for substance use disorder in our community.
In general, funding for substance use treatment services is lacking. For the Travis County community, service availability has decreased in recent years due to funding issues. For those who cannot afford the high cost of private pay services and medication, this results in waitlists for services and limited access to medications. To complicate this further, individuals are often dealing with more than just a substance use disorder diagnosis.
“Home is where one starts from.”
Terrace at Oak Springs is Integral Care’s newest permanent supportive housing community. 50 individuals who are experiencing homelessness will have a safe place to call home, helping them on the road to recovery.
Many of the future residents have been living on the streets with nothing but what fits in a backpack. You can provide household essential items exclusively for Terrace at Oak Springs – kitchen tools, bathroom supplies, linens and more — to help make the apartments feel like homes.
We have partnered with COCObundle, a local social enterprise that has curated the registry of household goods. Once a bundle is purchased, COCObundle handles the rest—from stocking the products to creating welcome packages for each of the 50 residents to delivering the items to Terrace. When new residents arrive on move-in day, they already will have welcome packages in their unit.
To donate a bundle for a future resident, simply visit the Integral Care campaign on the COCObundle website and select your preferred bundle.
In lieu of a bundle, you can also make a donation to support the future residents of Terrace at Oak Springs.
Austin, Texas – Integral Care’s CEO David Evans will receive the National Council for Behavioral Health’s 2019 Visionary Leadership award. This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the behavioral healthcare field, improving the lives of individuals living with mental illness and addiction disorders and helping them live full lives in their communities. David Evans has over 40 years of experience as a leader in the fields of behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities, serving as Integral Care’s CEO for 25 years.
Since 1993, David Evans has led Integral Care as the agency grew from 400 employees to more than 900 employees who serve our community at over 45 locations. Under his leadership, Integral Care has launched innovative healthcare policies and practices, including tobacco cessation, housing as a healthcare intervention and integrated health care.
“I am honored to receive an Award of Excellence from the National Council. I also accept this award on behalf of Integral Care, our Board of Trustees, and our dedicated staff who work every day to improve the lives of adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developments disabilities. Together, we’re implementing best practices and building innovative partnerships across schools, medical research, public safety and criminal justice – all of which improve outcomes for people in our community and move us toward our vision of Healthy Living for Everyone.”
– David Evans, CEO of Integral Care
David Evans is an unwavering champion of creating opportunities for people experiencing mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities to live in the community – not institutions. His entire career, across multiple states, has been dedicated to this singular goal. Mr. Evans has been recognized by NAMI Austin for his work promoting dignity and inclusion of people living with mental illness and called a Healthcare Hero by the Austin Business Journal. He also holds the prestigious ACMHA Feldman Award for Lifetime Achievement for mental health leadership and health policy.
The award will be presented on March 26, 2019, in Nashville, TN, during the Awards of Excellence Celebration in conjunction with the National Council Conference – NatCon19. Hailed as the nation’s premier behavioral health conference, NatCon19 will convene more than 5,000 behavioral health professionals to discuss solutions and outcomes that transform health care.
February 6, 2019
Mental health issues and substance use disorders (SUDs) rarely occur independently. Why then, are they so often addressed separately, without a more coordinated system of care? Treating the whole person is always the most effective strategy.
Read more in our monthly newsletter, Transparencies.
January 7, 2019
As the Texas Legislature heads back into session, a major focus will be funding for the new Austin State Hospital (ASH). The reimagined state hospital isn’t just a new building, it’s a redesign of the mental health delivery system. An effective redesign would mean that our mental health system would have the right services that prevent people from being hospitalized and could also help them return to the community with the appropriate supports following a hospitalization.
Read more in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.
December 10, 2018
The 86th Texas Legislature is right around the corner – set to begin January 8th. In gearing up for this session, we’d like to take a look at some of the valuable legislation that came out of the 85th session, progress made during the year and a half interim, and the anticipated issue areas coming up in January.
Find out more in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.
November 29, 2018
A report from the Children’s Mental Health Crisis Task Force recommends that to improve care for children the community needs to remove the stigma associated with mental illness, offer more crisis intervention options and better coordinate care.
Read the report here.
November 14, 2018
Integral Care is closely evaluating the various emerging technologies as well as how they may allow us to improve access, measure outcomes, develop best practices, and control costs. How do they work, what’s promising but unproven, and where are the possible drawbacks? Find out in our monthly newsletter Transparencies.
November 12, 2018
Integral Care recently launched a collaboration with Crisis Text Line, a national organization that provides free, 24/7 crisis support via text, increasing access to crisis care for people in our community who prefer texting to talking. Since 75% of texters are under 25, the text line is an additional tool that helps youth and young adults who may be struggling. Here’s how it works:
- An individual texts TX to 741741.
- A trained Crisis Text Line counselor receives the text and responds quickly – within 5 minutes.
- The Crisis Text Line counselor helps the individual stay safe and healthy using active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message, using a secure platform.
Crisis Text Line counselors are volunteers who go through rigorous training. A paid professional with an advanced degree in counseling, psychology or social work closely supervises them, monitoring every conversation. Additionally, supervisors have experience in crisis intervention.
Crisis Text Line is an anonymous service, which means they don’t know the location of the person reaching out for help. However, if a texter is at imminent risk of suicide, including ideation, plans, means or timing within 24 hours, a Crisis Text Line supervisor can activate emergency response and identify the location of the individual. Crisis Text Line will contact local law enforcement or EMS to perform a safety check on the individual. In this situation, local law enforcement or EMS might refer to Integral Care or involve our Mobile Crisis Outreach Team. Nationally, Crisis Text Line contacts law enforcement or EMS an average of 20 times per day.
Integral Care continues to provide immediate crisis support over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our 24/7 Crisis Helpline at 512-472-HELP (4357). We are proud to partner with the Text Line, so that people who prefer not to pick up the phone have access to the support they need, when they need it.
“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.
February 20, 2018
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.
December 14, 2017
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
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.
October 31, 2017
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.
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.
September 29, 2017
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).
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.
August 1, 2017
KVUE featured a story about Integral Care’s soon-to-open Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. “The Judge Guy Herman Center provides a different type of treatment for people experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Laura Slocum, an Integral Care Practice Administrator. “This really focuses on short-term stabilization with a goal of getting that person on a path to recovery as quickly as possible and having them return to the community as quickly as possible with support from Integral Care’s treatment teams.”
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