Serious mental illness is a life-long problem requiring constant care and often costly treatment that affects millions of Americans each year.
While great progress has been made in understanding the causes, treatment, and even prevention of mental illness, the gap between knowledge and practice is greater than ever before as government all levels seeks to reduce funding and as the uninsured population continues to grow.
The convergence of managed care practices and budget cutting threatens the public safety net as never before. The closing of private facilities increases the pressure on the public system.
The stigma surrounding mental illness persists, making the provision and availability of adequate services that much more of a challenge. According to the National Mental Health Association State Healthcare Reform Manual (January, 1999) millions of people suffer from discrimination and misunderstanding because they have a mental or emotional disorder-often relegating people with mental illness to the fringe of society.
The Youth Violence Prevention initiative: The Youth Violence Prevention Task Force is a multi-agency group working on developing the actions needed to provide the unmet mental health needs that put kids at risk for violence.
* Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) MHAHouston, in conjunction with Houston-area law enforcement agencies, mental health providers and advocacy organizations, implemented CIT, an educational program aimed at enabling law enforcement officers to more effectively work with persons with mental illness.
* The Houston Integrated Funding Initiation Collaborative Project (HIFI) is a project that prepares key local stakeholders to implement a collaborative system of care providing services for children with severe emotional disturbances who are at risk of out of home placement. HIFI was established in May 2000 based upon the Texas Integrated Funding Initiative (TIFI), under the leadership of MHAHouston and the fiscal administration of the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) of Harris County .
* Judicial initiative-An initiative with Houston-area judges, attorneys, mental health consumers, and mental health providers, that seeks to identify barriers for persons with mental illness in the judicial system and develop consensus around the development of solutions.
* Mental Health Voter Empowerment Program (MHVEP) Consumer self-advocacy programs such as the Mental Health Voter Empowerment Project. In partnership with other mental health agencies, this program helps to educate and empower mental health consumers through their rights as citizens to vote and to be active in the political process.
The success of the program requires the collaboration and participation of mental health consumers, family members and professionals. This multi-faceted project includes identifying and registering mental health consumers as voters, maintaining a database of registered voters, including them in educational workshops and assisting them in getting to the polls. MHVEP's goals are:
* To assist in building mental health coalitions
* To eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness