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Recognizing that behavioral health and physical health go hand in hand, Integral Care works to address our clients’ whole health. This video highlights our care as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, one of the first 8 in the state.

 

Integral Care is excited to kick off a new strategic plan that will guide our work for the next three years. Watch this video featuring our leadership to learn how we plan to build on our strong foundation and core values to improve health and well-being in Austin-Travis County in 2020-22. READ FULL PLAN

 

The Austin Chronicle published an article focused on how Austin women are dispelling stigma and moving mental health issues forward. The article features Deborah Rosales-Elkins, Peer Support Specialist, and Ellen Richards, Chief Strategy Officer, as well as key Integral Care partners from NAMI Central Texas and Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Read it out here or grab the 7/4 issue off the stands.

The 86th Texas Legislative Session has come to a close with over 4,500 bills and resolutions passed. Legislators came together, strong in their bipartisan commitment to various issue areas including mental health, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Read more in our monthly newsletter, Transparencies.

On June 19, St. David’s Foundation awarded Integral Care $1.6 million to support operations at the Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care, which provides short-term emergency psychiatric crisis care for adults in a secure, protected residential environment before making a safe return to the community.

 

St. David’s Foundation has been instrumental in bringing this essential service to our community. In 2014, the foundation awarded Integral Care a capital grant to build a new mental health crisis center that would reduce strain on local emergency departments, reduce costs of care, and divert individuals experiencing a mental health crisis from jail. Three years later, Integral Care opened the Herman Center.

 

Since opening in 2017, the Herman Center has filled a critical gap in the local mental health safety net by offering additional psychiatric emergency beds in our community for those who do not require inpatient treatment. During a short-term stay, people can access services including crisis assessment, crisis stabilization and extended observation, medications, individual and group therapy, peer services, nursing services, case management, discharge planning, and linkage to ongoing care and additional community resources.

 

From July 2018 through May 2019, the Herman Center served 1,747 individuals, the majority of whom were referred by emergency departments or law enforcement. With the Herman Center in our community’s continuum of care, we can ensure that psychiatric crisis treatment is always available in the most appropriate and cost‐effective setting.

 

Learn more about St. David’s Foundations 2019 summer grants here.

Lead Editor: Nathaniel Hall, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team Peer Support Specialist

Bill Newcomb is the peer specialist for Integral Care’s Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. Nathaniel Hall interviewed him.

Nathaniel: Part of a peer specialist’s job is mentoring. What does that include?

Bill: Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.
Sometimes peer specialists can look like teachers or coaches or sponsors depending on what we’re doing. Peer specialists are experts in recovery and resilience. We’ve managed to get our life back on track after suffering a major disruption. Sharing our recovery story and what we’ve learned along the way is a major qualification for our job.

Nathaniel: Where do peer specialists get their expertise?

Bill: Life. My expertise comes from having lived with mental illness and all the associated challenges it presents. Peer specialists have all had major life disruptions due to mental illness and have survived and overcome. We use ourselves as examples, proof that people can, and do recover.
Recovery to me isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. One of my favorite quotes relating to peer support is “The first to help you up are the ones who know how it feels to fall down.”

Nathaniel: What does a peer specialist focus more on – recovery and wellness or illness and disease?

Bill: Recovery and wellness without a doubt. One of the most important jobs a peer specialist has is to tell our recovery story. This is very different from a “war story” in that the focus is on how we got through the tough times. How we survived. What helped us get better and what didn’t. This doesn’t mean we shy away from talking about the bad stuff, the illness and its impact. It’s the difference between just remembering the hard times and learning from the past.

One thing I’ve seen over the years is that people who struggle with mental illness often have a hard time having hope. Spending too much time focusing on problems can make them seem worse and lead people to a sense of hopelessness or powerlessness. Focusing on positive actions people can take gives them more of a sense of control and empowers them. Having ways of “fighting back” help people to not feel like helpless victims.

One of the things I do a lot of groups on is coping skills. The number one way to take a break for me is “pet a furry creature.”

Nathaniel: What does “peer advocacy” mean?

Bill: It’s frequently the case that people dealing with mental health challenges are told what their recovery should look like by family, friends or medical professionals. Peer specialists can help people define what they want their recovery to look like and help them to advocate for treatment that supports their goals.
Recovery means different things to different people. I define my own recovery as being able to live a happy and productive life, but I can’t impose my definition on anyone else. For some people, it might just mean staying out of psychiatric hospitals. That was my main goal when I was newly diagnosed. Promoting self-determination is literally the first principle in the certified peer specialist code of ethics.
Another way peer specialists help advocate for our clients is navigating the mental health system itself. Sometimes this can mean translating the language used by specialists, for example “doctor speak.” Sometimes it can mean aiding someone in finding help or resources.

The Herman Center offers adults emergency mental health care in a safe overnight facility. Staff help adults who are in crisis by providing medical support, emotional support, medicine and connection to ongoing services. The Herman Center does not accept walk-ins. Referrals come from law enforcement and healthcare providers, like local emergency departments.

By Karen Ranus of NAMI Central Texas and Ellen Richards of Integral Care

 

Being Superwomen – juggling family, career, relationships, community service and aging parents – puts us at risk. Trying to do it ALL, women often forget to put themselves on the “to do” list. Neglecting to take care of ourselves can and does impact our mental health.

 

Research shows that women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, anxiety and PTSD, and twice as likely to attempt suicide. Yet, few of us recognize mental health is just as important as physical health. One in five people – women, men and children – experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. Mental illness is actually far more common than cancer. It is a brain-based disorder, deserving the same care, treatment and respect as a physical illness. But we still have work to do when it comes to bringing mental illness out of the shadows.

 

Mental Health Month and National Women’s Health Week are recognized in May, creating an opportunity to raise awareness and share resources. If you or a female relative, friend or colleague experiences a mental health issue, here are things you can do:

 

  1. Seek help from a professional. Help is available and recovery is possible. Integral Care has a 24/7 Helpline (512-472-HELP/4357) for anyone who needs immediate emotional support – even if you’re just having a bad day. Mental health professionals are available around the clock to offer help without judgement and connection to services like integrated mental and primary health care and counseling.
  2. Take a free class or join a support group with NAMI Central Texas. NAMI supports individuals who experience a mental illness and their family members as they move toward recovery. People come together to connect, learn and share resources. Learn more at NAMICentralTX.org.
  3. Share your story. When women share their stories, we have the power to shift the conversation around mental health, create change in our healthcare system and improve mental health care for everyone. Being open about our own struggles empowers our community to recognize and talk about mental health without shame or stigma.
  4. Be compassionate and offer support. Just as you would reach out to someone diagnosed with cancer, reach out to someone experiencing a mental health issue. Share food, send a card, drive them to an appointment. Take Integral Care’s free Mental Health First Aid class to learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health issue or crisis. Register at integralcare.org/MHFA.

 

As we are told before taking off for a flight, “put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Protecting our health and well-being are essential for women to continue to thrive. Women strengthen our community when we take care of ourselves just as we take care of others. Tending to our mental health is as important as our physical health. With access to quality mental health care and connection to a strong support network, we build health and well-being and become a more resilient community.

 

Karen Ranus is the Executive Director of NAMI Central Texas, the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Learn more at NAMICentralTX.org.
Ellen Richards is the Chief Strategy Officer of Integral Care, the Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority for Travis County. Learn more at IntegralCare.org.

If you missed our Community Forum: A Home is More Than Four Walls, check out the recap on our podcast This Is Integral. Darilynn Cardona-Beiler, our Director of Adult Behavioral Health Services, Chris Laguna, our Practice Administrator for Housing and Homeless Services, and Anne Nagelkirk, our Director of Communications and Engagement share some of their favorite moments from the forum and talk about Integral Care’s work in homelessness and housing.

 

I am pleased to announce that Integral Care’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Annual Report is now available. I invite you to learn about the work we did in 2018 to support adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

 

As I reflect on last year, the word integration comes to mind. Integral Care believes in serving the whole person through integrated care. We believe that community systems and partners must collaborate at all levels, integrating their expertise, to advance the whole health of our community. In FY18, Integral Care partnered with the City of Austin, Travis County and Central Health, criminal justice, first responders, school districts, non-profit community-based organizations and healthcare providers to strengthen our local systems, improve access to care, and raise awareness around issues of mental health, substance use disorder and IDD.

 

Together, we are helping Travis County thrive and are moving closer to our vision of Healthy Living for Everyone.

 

David Evans

Chief Executive Officer

A home means access and connection to community, quality health care, and recovery – all of which help build health and well-being. Organizations across Travis County work to prevent homelessness as well as engage individuals experiencing homelessness, connecting them to housing so they can regain their health and independence. When people have a safe place to call home and access to support services in the community, they can thrive and meet their full potential.

 

Big thanks to our panelists Lisa Garcia, Vice President of Assisted Housing at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin Department of Assisted Housing, Alan Graham, Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Julian Huerta, Deputy Executive Director at Foundation Communities, and Darilynn Cardona-Beiler, Director of Adult Behavioral Health Systems at Integral Care.

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.

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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.

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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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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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July 17, 2017

KXAN highlighted the ribbon cutting ceremony of Integral Care’s soon-to-open Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care. The Herman Center provides 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. Austin Police Sargent Michael King said: “It’s going to be a valuable tool for the police department.” To learn more about the Herman Center, click here.

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April 28, 2017

KUT explored how housing can help individuals experiencing homelessness overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs. KUT asked Integral Care how we support our homeless community experiencing substance use disorder. “If someone’s living on the streets and struggling with a substance use disorder, it’s impossible for them to recover on the streets,” said Ellen Richards, Integral Care Chief Strategy Office. “We literally take people who are experiencing homelessness, move them straight into housing, regardless of whether they have an active mental illness or substance use disorder, and then we wrap rehabilitation supports around them so they can get on the path to recovery and a new life.”

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February 9, 2017

KVUE highlighted Integral Care’s soon-to come Housing First Oak Springs, a whole health treatment approach to ending chronic homelessness for people living with mental illness and/or substance use disorder. This 50-unit apartment community will provide housing to regain health and independence as well as offer access to an onsite clinic with counseling to support emotional health and drug and alcohol treatment to help with recovery.

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