mental health

Anna Casey/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Editor’s note: Some of the stories in this post may be disturbing to young readers.

Camp Brave Heart sits just outside of Wimberley, near the Blanco River. It looks just like any other American summer camp. But here the swimming, bonfires and camp songs are secondary to the main mission.

All Brave Heart’s campers have experienced the recent loss of a loved one.

 


Courtesy Alex Horton

From Texas Standard:

The parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan have spent the last few days in the national spotlight, clashing with Donald Trump. The Khans are just one couple among the millions of parents whose children have gone to war. But the spotlight has illuminated the agonies and anxiety that military parents struggle with but seldom talk about openly.

Alex Horton, a Texan who served 15 months in Iraq as an army infantryman, is now a national reporter for Stars and Stripes. He recently wrote about his parents' experience while he was gone.

 


Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting” is Texas Standard’s oral history on the anniversary of the first public mass shooting of its kind. Throughout the week, we'll be bringing you more stories about the impact the shooting had on Texas and the world.

The University at Texas at Austin motto is meant to inspire: "What starts here changes the world."

Mental illness can be hard to acknowledge or talk about. Two Austinites who are educators and advocates with the National Alliance on Mental Illness want to help people get past that. And they’re focusing on the African American community.

mirsasha via flickr

For more than a century, the Austin State Hospital has been a fixture in Hyde Park. While the facility near Guadalupe and 41st Streets is primarily a psychiatric hospital, its winding trails and tree-lined campus are a popular recreational space for neighbors. Now, state leaders are considering selling the property and relocating the hospital – a move that has some residents concerned. 

Jared Hersch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story discusses details that may not be suitable for children.

Fifteen years ago this week, Andrea Yates – a mom from a Houston suburb – methodically and systematically drowned all five of her children. The kids ranged in age from six months to seven years old.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

In the last five months, LaNelia Ramette has been to the home of eight Denton County families who had just lost a loved one to suicide. Three of those times, she arrived on the scene before the police tape came down.

Unlike the police officers and medical examiners she encounters on her shifts, Ramette is not a typical first responder. She is a volunteer who appears at the scene of tragedy — with the medical examiner’s permission — to be a voice of compassion in a suicide survivor’s darkest hour.

Image via Flickr/Paul Weaver (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Tonight, President Barack Obama will speak and take questions at a televised town hall hosted by CNN.

The topic? Guns – specifically, the administration's new executive orders on gun control.

 


From the Austin Monitor

From the Austin Monitor: Travis County has seen an astonishing rise in the number of inmates dealing with mental health issues in the past decade.

That message was the thrust of a lengthy briefing delivered to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday by a broad coalition of county officials and community stakeholders, including Austin Travis County Integral Care and the Capital Area Private Defender Service.

Image via Facebook/Susan Hawk

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk disappeared.

Her office fielded questions as to her whereabouts explaining that she was just taking a summer break, and that everything was fine.

Everything wasn't fine, as the public would learn later.

As Hawk's absence continued, the DA publicly revealed she was struggling with depression. More recently, in a candid interview with D Magazine, Hawk revealed that she was experiencing suicidal thoughts and had spent two months getting treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Houston.

 


Flickr/Chris Miller CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For 35 years, Jerry Hartfield sat in a prison awaiting trial — and now he’s finally getting one. Hartfield was convicted in 1977 of murdering a woman in Bay City. He was sentenced to death, even though by today’s standards, his IQ of 67 is considered mentally impaired.

Three years after that conviction, in 1980, it was overturned because of problems with jury selection. The governor of Texas at the time, Mark White, commuted the sentence to life in prison. The problem? The underlying conviction has been invalidated, so there wasn’t even a conviction to commute. Hartfield waited for years in prison for a trial that never came.

Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle

From Texas Standard:

Sandra Bland’s case has made international headlines. But as the Houston Chronicle reported this week, Bland’s suicide is hardly a one-off incident in Texas county jails. Since 2009, 140 inmates in Texas jails have died by suicide; that’s when the state started tracking those numbers. Journalist Sinjin Smith has been following the issue for some time. His most recent article on this issue focuses on the methods and ways that inmates complete suicide in jail. He investigated the case of Danarian Hawkins, who was found last year hanging from a noose he’d made from a bed sheet tied to his cell’s sprinkler system.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Ben Johnson is combing through a list of names, addresses and mental health histories in the driver seat of a Jeep Compass. He works for Austin’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, MCOT, a branch of Austin Travis County Integral Care comprised of 18 licensed mental health counselors who respond to mental health crises across the county.

Johnson is deciding who to visit today. Another patient has paranoia. In addition, she's having problems at home, and is in danger of losing her housing. 

Liang Shi for KUT

Texas is spending more money on mental health now than it has in more than a decade, and today, state lawmakers got to hear about what that money is accomplishing.

Some of the numbers on mental health services in Texas have lawmakers patting themselves on the back.

Michael Stravato/Texas Tribune

The start of the next Texas legislative session is getting close enough that advocacy groups are urging support for their areas of interest. Today, a local organization released a report [click here for the PDF]  that suggests if the state spends more money on peer support groups in county jails, the recidivism rate would drop.

In recent years, law enforcement in Texas has been vocal about county jails serving as de facto mental health providers for inmates.

flickr.com/jhaymesisvip

The Texas Youth and Runway Hotline has answered more than one million calls from youth and parents who are in crisis. Now youth and parents in crisis can access its services through text and chat. (The text number is 1-512-872-5777.)

The hotline, a service of the The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, launched new features last month. Despite fielding over a million phone calls, calls have been declining since 2010 as communications habits change.

Liang Shi, KUT News

Texas lawmakers are looking into whether more should be done to provide mental health services for inmates at state prisons.

Prison officials say inmates already have access to medication and individual or group counseling for mental illness. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston says the legislature has provided enough mental health funding in recent years for prisoners and parolees. And, he says, it shows.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

On the surface of the Onion Creek neighborhood, there’s progress.

The community is slowly recovering from 2013's deadly Halloween floods. Many families are back in their homes, even though most homes have yet to be fully rebuilt. But scratch the surface, and people are still suffering the psychological effects of that night.

Often when we hear about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it's in the context of war. But David Evans, CEO of Austin/Travis County Integral Care, says PTSD can affect those who survive any traumatic experience. 

Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

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