a monthly newsletter from Integral Care [printfriendly]

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


A Message From Our CEO

We are on alert. With COVID-19 cases climbing, mental health experts across the country warn that the U.S. faces a mental health crisis as we head into the winter months. The Centers for Disease Control’s June research study and last month’s American Psychological Association report, “Stress in America”, confirm that stress, mental health and substance use challenges, and suicide risk are on the rise. But, with the right supports and tools, there is hope. Just as a home requires repairs after a natural disaster, our mental health needs upkeep and repair from the negative impacts of the pandemic. Initiatives at the national, state and local level are making sure our communities have the tools we need to maintain our health and well-being and weather this storm.


Last month, the White House issued an Executive Order on Saving Lives Through Increased Support For Mental and Behavioral Health Needs. The order calls for the creation of a Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group and a plan for addressing the mental health impacts of COVID-19. The order also includes providing safe, in-person services for Americans in need of behavioral health treatment.


Since the pandemic began, the Federal Government has dedicated approximately $425 million in emergency funds to address mental and substance use disorders through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). That is in addition to Federal Emergency Management Agency funding and implementation of the nationwide Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP). The CCP grants funding to state agencies across the country for mental health services after a presidential disaster declaration. Texas Health and Human Services administers our state CCP program, called Texans Recovering Together.



As the Local Mental Health Authority for Travis County, Integral Care is a CCP grant recipient. To date, we have supported 11,727 people affected by COVID-19 through the program, providing outreach, individual counseling, public and individual education, trauma supports, and connection to community resources. The grant has enabled us to expand access to Integral Care’s 24/7 Helpline (512-472-HELP/4357) to help people struggling with the emotional impact of the pandemic. Between March and July, the grant also covered our multidisciplinary team working daily with people quarantined in hotels.



People outside of Travis County can call the toll-free HHSC COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 833-986-1919 day or night. HSSC also launched a redesigned Mental Health TX website, a user-friendly guide to understanding mental health conditions, with information about how and where to get help for yourself or someone else.


As we enter this 9th month of uncertainty, Integral Care and others like us across the country are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to the mental health and substance use disorder resources we need. With the right support and tools, we can maintain health and well-being through this pandemic, just like a house weathering a serious storm.


David Evans
Chief Executive Officer



The stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic could make this winter and holiday season tougher than usual. Integral Care has compiled a set of innovative ideas to boost mental health for yourself, family, friends and neighbors. Let us help you handle the winter blues, stay connected and celebrate the season in new and exciting ways. Our well-researched, hand-picked topics and tips help support well-being during these challenging times.


Nurturing our well-being is more important this year than ever, so there’s something in this toolkit for everyone. We think our suggestions will warm your soul while supporting your mental health.


On October 12th, Integral Care expanded face-to-face services at all Adult Behavioral Health and Child and Family clinics. We’re providing a hybrid model of care – limited onsite services and continued telehealth and telephone services. Our phased, hybrid approach supports the health and safety of staff and clients, while helping more people who could benefit from in-person services. Clients who have health conditions that could put them at a risk will not be scheduled for in-person appointments.


Face-to-face visits are provided by appointment at our East 2nd, Dove Springs, Rundberg and Riverside clinics Monday-Friday 8am-5pm. Our 3000 Oak Springs clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8am-5pm.


Integral Care continues to monitor and utilize Austin Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. We continue to take the following precautions:


  • Requiring face masks for all clients, visitors and staff
  • Limiting clients to one essential companion
  • Performing health screenings for all clients, staff and visitors
  • Following thorough infection prevention measures
  • Requiring staff to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Adhering to social distancing guidelines for clinic staff, clients and visitors

Our urgent care clinic Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) is providing face-to-face visits as well as telephone and telehealth services. (You do not need an appointment for PES.) The Mobile Crisis Outreach Team is also providing face-to-face visits as well as telephone and telehealth services. Our IDD operations remain the same for the time being. Please see the COVID-19 information page on our website for more information.


Please keep in mind that the current model of operations may shift or adjust based on continually changing conditions in Travis County.

What’s New at Integral Care

  • Integral Care’s Practice Manager Wendy Salazar participated in Univision’s COVID-19 Facebook Live Town Hall with SAFE and Austin Child Guidance Center. The event focused on supporting children’s mental health during current stressful times. 2300 people virtually attended the Town Hall.
  • Join us for a conversation about the impact of suicide on African Americans in Texas with WyKisha McKinney, a “suicide prevention superhero”, Zero Suicide Program Manager for The Harris Center in Houston and Board Chair of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The conversation will take place at the next #TogetherWeWillHeal Forum on November 18th from 1:30 – 2:30pm. This month’s forum is presented by Integral Care and the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference in collaboration with Austin Independent School District.
  • Join Integral Care and NAMI Central Texas on Thursday, December 3rd at 12pm for a virtual community forum about supporting your mental health this winter season. When we combine pandemic stress and depression with winter blues (or seasonal affective disorder) and a very different holiday season, this winter will likely be difficult for many. The good news – there are evidence-based strategies to boost our mental health and well-being during these unprecedented times. Panelists Dr. Calvin Kelly, Valerie Milburn, and Wendy Salazar will talk about how to manage seasonal and situational depression, navigate a different type of holiday season and stay connected with loved ones. Register here.
  • The Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council (SBHCC) wants to know what you think about behavioral health services and supports in Texas. SBHCC is seeking input from people who have used behavioral health services in Texas, as well as their families and caregivers, providers, and service agencies and organizations. Take the online survey here until Nov. 21. Your answers will be anonymous and will help guide state agencies to meet people’s needs.


October 2020: With Collaboration Comes Innovation

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