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Virtual Community Forum

 

The 88th Texas Legislature:

Preparing Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder and IDD Advocates

The 88th Texas Legislature: Preparing Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder and IDD Advocates

Over the last decade, the Texas Legislature has made an extraordinary commitment to mental health. Texas’ 88th Legislative Session kicks off on January 10, 2023. This creates more opportunities to further improve the issues affecting the mental health of Texans as well as the impact of substance use on our state and the needs of people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

On Wednesday, December 7 at noon, Integral Care and Texas Council of Community Centers invite you to join us for a virtual Community Forum, “The 88th Texas Legislature: Preparing Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder and IDD Advocates.” Experts from across Texas will discuss the following topics.

  • Issues to follow related to mental health, IDD and substance use disorder.
  • Steps to identify and track the issues most important to you
  • Methods and tips for testifying before a legislative committee and submitting written testimony
  • Resources for caregivers and advocates on how to connect with policymakers who represent them and tell your story

Moderator

    • Julie Guirguis, Integral Care, will moderate the panel.

Our expert panelists include:

  • Greg Hansch, LMSW, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
  • Lee Johnson of Texas Council
  • Eric Kunish of NAMI Central Texas

Audience members can submit questions in advance of the forum as well as ask questions directly to our panelists at the end of the discussion. Learn more about our panelists and moderator below.

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DATE:

Wednesday, Dec. 7
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST

Co-presented by:

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PANELISTS

Photo of Greg HanschGreg Hansch, LMSW, Executive Director
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
Pronouns: He/Him/His

Greg Hansch serves as the Executive Director of NAMI Texas. He joined NAMI Texas in 2012 and has previously served in government affairs roles. In his current role, he is responsible for providing direction and leadership toward the achievement of NAMI Texas’ mission. He is a Licensed Masters-Level Social Worker and a family member of a person with serious mental illness. He received a master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Nonprofit and Public Management from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He is an alumnus of the Policy Academy of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lee Johnson, Chief Executive Officer
Texas Council of Community Centers

Lee Johnson, MPA, serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the Texas Council of Community Centers, a state association that represents the 39 community centers of Texas. In this role, Johnson leads legislative strategy, appropriations issues, strategic communications, public policy development and implementation. Prior to joining the Texas Council, he served as legislative director for a state representative and, in the private sector, managed the urban and land use planning efforts of a commercial development firm in Austin, Texas, engaging county and city officials across the state. Johnson holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in public administration and political science from Texas State University

Photo of Eric KunishEric Kunish
NAMI Central Texas Advocacy Committee Chair

Eric has family members with severe mental illness (bipolar, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, substance abuse, and anxiety). That includes over 30 hospitalizations, self-harm, serious suicide attempts, and several jail visits adding up to one-year total time. He has a 43-year-old son, a 41-year-old daughter, and a wife of 49 years. He is retired now, but his previous two main careers were with the Texas Department of Health where he helped to train and license Emergency Medical personnel; and as a pharmaceutical representative with Boerhinger Ingelheim. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Government from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Government/Public Administration from West Texas State University. Eric is also a family member speaker for Crisis Information Training (CIT) with law enforcement and Captain of the NAMI Walks team, Radical Acceptance. He is also on the NAMI Texas Public Policy Committee. He volunteers with the National Education Alliance on Borderline Personality (NEA/BPD) for friends and family of people with BPD and has taught fifteen classes since 2013. He’s been a Support Group Leader since 2013 and on their national education committee. Eric also works with other stakeholders in mental health including Integral Care and ECHO (Ending Chronic Homelessness), including their Point in Time Count.

Moderator

Photo of Juliana GuirguisJuliana Guirguis, Practice Administrator for Justice Initiatives
Integral Care

Juliana (Julie) Guirguis received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston, Main Campus and a Master of Arts in Counseling from St. Edward’s University. She is currently a Practice Administrator for Justice Initiatives at Integral Care. Prior to this role, she worked within Integral Care with Transition Age Youth especially those experiencing their first episode of psychosis, the Expanded Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (EMCOT) and the traditional Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT). Julie assists in teaching the TCOLE’s Crisis Intervention Team training with Travis County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Police Department. Prior to her work at Integral Care, Julie worked at Travis County Juvenile Probation, Ascension Seton Behavioral Health and at the Kyle Prison with Gateway Foundation.

Integral Care supports adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. Integral Care’s services include a 24-hour helpline for anyone who needs immediate support, ongoing counseling to improve mental health, drug and alcohol treatment to help with recovery, and housing to regain health and independence. Integral Care helps provide a solid foundation for well-being. Founded in 1967, Integral Care is Travis County’s Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority.

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