a monthly newsletter from Integral Care

March 2021: Growth and Positive Change

A Message From Our CEO


While traumatic experiences can have a serious impact on our mental health, we know that they can be opportunities for growth. A full year has passed since Austin and Travis County went into lockdown due to the novel coronavirus. Add to that the stress and loss caused by the historic winter storm last month, and Austinites have experienced some serious collective trauma. I believe that our community has grown stronger together over the past year.


Austin is the first city in the country to change its opening prompt to allow 911 callers to choose either police, fire, EMS, or mental health services. Callers to 911 with mental health emergencies are immediately directed to an Integral Care clinician. Thanks to additional funding from the City of Austin, this service is now available 24/7.  This is a big step forward and we hope communities across the country will follow Austin’s lead.


Clinicians taking calls the week of the storm reported that most callers mentioned stress related to the storm as a contributing factor to their crisis. Easy access to a mental health professional during a time of crisis is crucial to a community’s overall well-being.


Another piece of positive news for community well-being – Integral Care recently received over $1M from FEMA and SAMHSA to continue providing crisis support and intervention through the end of June. Crisis Counseling Program services include outreach, individual counseling, public education, individual education, trauma supports, referrals and linkage to help people affected by the pandemic. Individuals experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or grief related to COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic can reach a crisis counselor by calling our Helpline at 512-472-4357 and pressing 7.


The past 12 months have been tremendously difficult. We all need mental health support in times like these. We must take care of ourselves and pay close attention to our mental health and that of others. The Integral Care Helpline is available 24/7. Call 512-472-4357, press 1 for English, then 1 for immediate support. For those who prefer texting over talking, we suggest the Crisis Text Line. Text TX to 741-741 to connect with a crisis counselor.


Be well and stay safe. Working together we will get to the other side and be a stronger community.



David Evans
Chief Executive Officer


Help the IDD Community Weather the Pandemic


The pandemic exacts a heavy toll on individuals and families who live with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD). Integral Care and other providers are working to make a difference, alleviating the stress faced by this community. There are opportunities for you to make a difference too.


Let’s first take a moment to consider the pandemic’s impact on ID/DD services and the steps Integral Care is taking to support this population.


  • Our IDD division is providing in-person respite services through contracted providers who are following CDC-recommended precautions. Respite gives caregivers a short break, reducing stress levels and burnout. With families under acute stress, the need for respite care is higher than usual.
  • Thanks to a grant from the Episcopal Health Foundation, we purchased 50 iPads to enable virtual visits with people residing in nursing facilities and group homes where we could not make face-to-face visits. We are currently working with the Austin State Supported Living Center, with plans to provide iPads to them as well.
  • In conjunction with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, we’ve completed targeted outreach to individuals eligible for COVID-19 vaccination and assisted them with signing up for appointments.
  • We are providing telehealth services and in-person services to meet individual needs: IQ testing, crisis prevention and intervention, help securing a home in the community and more.
Caption: a client who recently received crisis and housing support

Caption: a client who recently received crisis and housing support

Now, here’s what you can do to support individuals with IDD:


  • Volunteer virtually! Organizations like the Mary Lee Foundation need you. Email In-kind donations of your services and expertise, tablets, laptops, arts and crafts supplies, etc. welcome too.
  • Vaccination sign-up and transportation. Help friends, family and neighbors navigate the process and/or get them to their appointment.
  • Provide information on support groups, free activities, mental health resources.
  • Reach out to family, friends and neighbors with ID/DD needs via phone or video chat. Staying connected with others is crucial for our mental health and well-being.
  • Offer to run errands or provide a break for the person or family, following COVID-19 precautions.
  • Send materials for activities to places where individuals are isolated, such as nursing facilities. Arts and craft supplies, simple jigsaw puzzles, photo search books and games, weighted blankets, a variety of scented lotions or essential oils for aromatherapy, adult fidget toys like squish balls.
  • Educate yourself and your family.

We’d like to recognize everyone who supports the needs of individuals with ID/DD, during the pandemic and beyond. Thank you for helping reduce stigma and promoting inclusion and accessibility in our community.

Community Forum

Community Forum: Caregiver Support in Pandemic Times: Tips, Tools and Resources for the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Caregiver

Join us March 31st 12:00 – 1:00pm for a special forum focused on supporting the IDD community, among the hardest hit by the ongoing pandemic. Families are experiencing fatigue and hardship due to limited access to many crucial support services, such as respite care. With an uncertain end to the pandemic, we must focus on supporting caregivers of adults and children living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Experts from across Travis County will explore the needs this community faces, offer tips for caregivers, as well as resources and activities to help adults and children with IDD thrive. We hope caregivers will join us for this important forum intended to provide support and tangible tools to help navigate this challenging time.


Panelists include:


  • Malika Pritchett, Ph.D., Behavior Analyst and CEO of Positive Enlightenment
  • Barry Hamilton, LCSW, Clinical Director of Down Home Ranch
  • Diane Kearns, parent, advocate and former board member of the Autism Society of Texas

Louise Lynch, Integral Care’s Provider Network and Authority Officer, will moderate the panel.

Mark Your Calendars: IDD Speaker Series

IDD Speaker Series Photos

The Hub Learning Community, a transition support team at Integral Care, is hosting a speaker series on issues related to intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 90-minute webinars take place on Mondays throughout March and April. CEUs are available for LPC, LMFT, SWS, and LCDC. Meet the presenters here.


  • March 22nd, 2:00-3:30pm – A Peer Support Specialist View of IDD and Mental Health Services (presenter Jordan Smelley, PRSS/ICPR, MHPS with Young Peer Mentor Endorsement) Register here.
  • March 29, 2:00-3:30pm – Nutritional Considerations for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (presenter Yasmine Mavrakis, RD, LD with Integral Care) Register here.
  • April 12th, 2:00-3:30pm – Adherence to Treatment: What To Do When Clients Don’t Engage (presenter Robert E Feinstein M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School) Register here.
  • April 26th, 2:00-3:30pm: Behavior Therapy, Trauma, and Community Living (presenter Chad Burns, M. Ed., BCBA, LBA, behavior analyst) Register here.

Historic Winter Storm Response

collage of winter storm response picturesIn a time of unbelievable crisis, through snow, ice, loss of power and water, staff from every part of our agency came together to support the community and help with recovery efforts. Staff worked around-the-clock to care for our clients, while also dealing with the impact of this disaster on their own lives.


  • Staff worked with the City of Austin and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate much-needed mental health support at the Palmer Events Center.
  • Staff stayed overnight at our residential facilities and EOC when the next shift couldn’t travel due to unsafe conditions.
  • Staff ensured IDD clients had food, water, medication, and a warm place to stay.
  • Staff held a donation drive, collecting and distributing water to clients in need. In total, we secured over 800 gallons of water!
  • Staff offered mental health, crisis and substance use disorder services onsite at Palmer, safely transported there by our friends at EMS.


Outside of the impact of our incredible team, we also witnessed amazing efforts across the city.


  • winter storm - packagesAn Indeed employee put out a call for Integral Care donations on their staff Slack channel, bringing funds from across the United States. Our Amazon wishlist for clients went viral when it was shared through the Associated Press. We received almost 300 boxes and over $10,000 in donations from across the country.
  • Restaurants generously fed our city, and donated meals to Terrace at Oak Springs.
  • Neighbors helped neighbors stay warm, access food and water, and deal with storm damage.
  • The Leander H-E-B sent customers home with free groceries after the store lost power.
  • Travis County Judge Andy Brown got video support from a plumber to fix a Central Texas Food Bank plumbing issue so they could operate.

We are inspired by the dedication, strength, perseverance and compassion displayed across the community. Together, we helped adults and children across Travis County maintain health and well-being during this historic winter storm.

What’s New at Integral Care

  • Integral Care’s collaborations with Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry continue. Learn more about collaborations in clinical innovation, research and workforce development and training in the Department of Psychiatry 2020 Annual Report.
  • Integral Care Foundation’s Amplify Austin campaign raised $24,000 in just 24 hours. A special shout out goes to the Integral Care Foundation Board members and our longtime supporter, Mary Yancy, PhD, who provided a matching gift of $10,000.
  • Wendy Salazar, Integral Care’s Practice Manager for Adult Behavioral Health and Child and Family Services, recently appeared on Austin PBS’s “ATX Together”. The show looked at mental health during a year of crisis. Watch the video here.


February 2021: How Do We Create a Better Future?

January 2021: Looking Ahead to the Legislative Session

December 2020: Supporting Your Mental Health This Winter

November 2020: How do we rebuild health and well-being during a pandemic?

October 2020: With Collaboration Comes Innovation

September 2020: Success Stories of Recovery and Suicide Prevention

August 2020: A Back to School Season Like Never Before

July 2020: Minority Health Disparities & COVID-19

June 2020: Stronger Together

May 2020: Surviving and Thriving During Uncertain Times

April 2020: Persevering During COVID-19

March 2020: Collaborations and Initiatives to Improve Health for the IDD Population

February 2020:Solutions to Health and Health Care Disparities

January 2020: Sucicide Prevention a Local Effort

December 2019: A Year of Thriving Care & Collaboration

November 2019: Teamwork and Collaboration Impact Homelessness in Travis County

October 2019:Making Strides for World Mental Health

September 2019: Taking Steps to Recovery Support

August 2019: Working Together for Child & Youth Mental Health

July 2019: Legislative Wrap-Up – Some Bipartisan Wins for Healthcare

June 2019: Strengthening Access for Veterans and the Entire Military Family

May 2019: Women and Mental Health

April 2019: Legislative Session Status Report

March 2019: Making Opportunities for Recovery More Accessible

February 2019: Recovery is Possible

January 2019: Stronger Outcomes Through Collaboration

December 2018: Looking ahead to the 86th Texas Legislature

November 2018: How Tech is Changing the Face of Mental Health

October 2018: A Few Questions Could Help Save a Life

September 2018: Anyone Can Save a Life

August 2018: A Milestone Moment

July 2018: Equity in Mental Health Care for All

June 2018: Expanding Services for Veterans

May 2018: Your Mental Health Toolkit

April 2018: Time of Terror Calls for Increased Emotional Support

March 2018: Stopping the cycle of incarceration for individuals with mental illness

February 2018: Equity in mental healthcare for everyone

January 2018 : Improving Mental Health Through Partnership & Collaboration

December 2017: Strength Through Community

November 2017 : Healthy Lifestyles Improve Well-Being

October 2017 : National Child Health Day

September 2017 : Strengthening Families and Communities