a monthly newsletter from Integral Care
a monthly newsletter from Integral Care
The recent events that began with the death of George Floyd (and even earlier with the death of Austinite Mike Ramos, and so many others) are difficult and challenging on many levels. The stress and grief that many are experiencing are compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Words are inadequate at a time like this but it is important that we acknowledge what is happening across the country and the profound impact it is having on our communities.
Integral Care is taking time to reflect on our work to ensure that we are doing our part to support inclusion and equity within our organization and for our clients. As the Local Mental Health Authority, Integral Care plays a vital role in helping people across our community take care of their mental and emotional health and heal, which is now more important than ever. If you or someone you know needs help, please call us at 512-472-HELP (4357) anytime – day or night.
In these unsettling times, I hope that we may come together to create real and lasting change that improves lives in our community. Together, we are stronger.
Chief Executive Officer
June Virtual Community Forums
We are excited to offer two virtual Community Forums this month. On June 16th, our Chief Financial Officer will share information about planning for our Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. On June 24th, the Integral Care Foundation will host a forum on a timely topic – Healing from Trauma. Experts across Integral Care’s Crisis, Child & Family and Adult Services will offer tangible tools to help our community cope with and heal from traumatic events. We hope to see you at one or both.
Tuesday, June 16th, 1:00 pm – Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
Join us for a virtual update on Integral Care’s strategic plan and identified priorities. David Weden, Integral Care’s Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer, will provide an outline of our current budget and talk about plans for our Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Register today.
Wednesday, June 24th, 1:00 pm – Healing from Trauma, Hosted by Integral Care Foundation
Trauma impacts all of us directly and indirectly. Adults, children, and our greater community are being profoundly impacted by the events of recent months, from COVID-19 to the death of George Floyd. Experts from Integral Care’s Crisis, Child & Family and Adult Behavioral Health Services will provide tangible tools to help people cope with and heal from traumatic events. Our mental health depends on knowing the signs and symptoms of trauma, ways to help yourself and where to get help when needed. Register today.
It’s been almost 3 months since the first COVID-19 cases were announced in Austin and the city initiated shelter in place to reduce the spread of the virus. While we are familiar with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus, let’s take a closer look at the many examples of our community coming together and potential long-term impacts that may better our society.
We are openly discussing our mental health – almost all of us. A recent Time article written by a psychiatrist states that, “Though depression is already the number one cause of disability worldwide, this is the first time many employers and managers are thinking and openly talking about mental health in the workplace.” The stigma surrounding mental health is centuries old, and these collective experiences have us recognizing that no matter our race, economic standing or genetic predisposition, we are all at risk of experiencing trauma and its potentially lasting impact.
Healthcare providers have long believed in the effectiveness of telehealth, but implementation has been slow. COVID-19 is helping the government, insurers, and patients alike rethink it, which is increasing access to mental health care. Integral Care started providing telehealth services in March, ensuring continuity of care while reducing the potential spread of coronavirus. We hope greater access to telehealth is here to stay.
Despite social distancing, the level of connection between individuals and their community is inspiring. Austinites are running errands for strangers quarantined at home. We are intentionally engaging with neighbors we’ve never met, waving on walks and talking to each other (from 6 feet away). Teddy bears and rainbows in windows and chalk messages on sidewalks for passersby are helping lift spirits across the community. And, in a recent survey, 20% of respondents are communicating with friends and family more than before the start of the pandemic.
Businesses and organizations are thinking creatively and giving generously to support our community. Through the Asian Eats Gives program, a variety of Asian restaurants are feeding people who need a meal, including Integral Care clients. In April, a pop-up nonprofit, Frontline Foods, raised $10,000 in 10 days to feed healthcare workers. Non-profits are also responding to the crisis – Austin Community Foundation (ACF) among them. From March to mid-May, they increased giving by 57% in comparison to last year.
Austin and Travis County have come together – perhaps closer than ever – to support one another. After the COVID-19 crisis passes, may we remain more connected, continue the spirit of doing good in our community, place greater value in mental health and have greater access to health care. We are stronger together.
Integral Care continues to provide much of our care via telephone and telehealth. As our community begins to reopen, we are preparing for expanded in-person client care, keeping top of mind what we need to do to protect the health and safety of our staff and clients. Current operating procedures for in-person visits include:
Our 24/7 Helpline (512-472-4357) continues to provide immediate help to the community. If you need support or are worried about someone else, our professional staff are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide crisis counseling to support emotional well-being. Integral Care offers services in many languages.
Homeless and Supported Employment Services in the Time of COVID-19
Besides providing in-person support for people experiencing homelessness residing at isolation facilities, distributing phones, food and rental and utility assistance, Integral Care has been busy finding housing and employment for people despite the challenges of COVID-19. The nature of this pandemic has helped emphasize the Housing First principle – housing is a healthcare intervention.
Between mid-March and the end of May, Integral Care placed 55 people in permanent supportive housing amid stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Our housing and homeless services team attribute this high number of successful placements to several key factors. First, our committed landlord partners pivoted to process certain leasing paperwork via phone and electronically. Second, Integral Care has provided 600 people experiencing homelessness with flip phones loaded with 6 months of unlimited minutes. Those phones are connecting them with healthcare providers in this tenuous time and helping with housing coordination. According to Ashley Jones, Supported Housing Team Lead for Landlord Outreach,
“We can call someone the moment an apartment is available. We may need a client to see a property tomorrow. Without a phone, we may have a hard time finding the individual for several days. In that time, the property is no longer available. Providing phones has been very helpful.”
We applaud our devoted staff, dedicated to ending homelessness, no matter the obstacle.
Equally dedicated are our supported employment specialists, who found jobs for 25 clients between mid-March and the end of May, a challenge amid shutdowns and hiring freezes. When asked about the success despite the economic downturn, LaToya Kindred-Ray, Supported Employment Team Lead, points to our clients.
“They are doing the real work. They keep trying and keep placing their trust in us. We are merely partners in their journey.”
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