Increasing access to mental health services

Published 8:38 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nashville concert turns love of music into Hurricane Harvey Recovery help for OC

To The Leader

As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey nears, the citizens of Orange County are getting a boost in the availability of local mental health counseling from the music-loving community of Nashville, Tennessee. Orange County also will receive its own pocket-sized mental and behavioral health resource guide.

The struggle to recover from Harvey is still real. Rebuilding has been a long process, with a series of ups and downs. For many, stressors, such as financial issues, employment challenges or problems finding permanent housing, are continuing to linger. Domestic problems and substance use (tobacco, alcohol, drugs) can increase. In the year following a disaster, experts advise of the critical need for the availability of mental and behavioral health counseling.

With this $105,000 grant, Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas will be able to open its Orange office full-time, as well as host a support group in the community. Currently, Samaritan’s office at 1502 Strickland Drive is only open a few days a week, and counseling appointments are booked several weeks out.

“Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas is committed to serving the community giving hope to those needing support. With funds given so selflessly by those who see mental health and recovery as a vital part of life, Samaritan will be able to provide services to those in greatest need of healing,” said Robin McCutcheon, M.Ed., Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas.

Creating a guide specifically for the residents of Orange County can make it easier to find local services. With its $10,000 grant, Mental Health America of Southeast Texas will begin compiling the directory information that will become the Orange County resource guide for mental and behavioral health services.

“Mental Health America of Southeast Texas is thrilled and grateful to receive grant funding from our neighbors in Louisiana. Due to the generosity of the Community Foundations of Southwest Louisiana and Middle Tennessee, we will be able to create, print, and distribute a mental health resource guide specifically designed for Orange County residents,” said Kim Phelan, President of Mental Health America of Southeast Texas, local attorney and child advocate. “We must educate and empower individuals and families with critical life-saving information, not only now as we recover from Harvey, but in order to be mentally and physically prepared for the next hurricane or any future disaster.”

MHA of Southeast Texas created a similar resource guide in 2017 listing all the mental health resources in Jefferson County. The guide was part of the “Okay to Say” campaign in Southeast Texas aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and encouraging people to open up about mental health issues and seek treatment. The Jefferson County guide has been incredibly popular and difficult to keep in print.

Phelan added, “The Jefferson County Guide has been a huge success and continues to be in high demand. Educators, law enforcement officers, local service providers, doctors, ministers and many other area leaders have found the user-friendly guide to be an effective way to share critical information about available community resources.”

Some of music’s biggest stars performed at the sold-out benefit concert last November that raised more than $4 million for the 2017 hurricane and Las Vegas shooting victims. Performers included Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, George Strait, Keith Urban, Jon Pardi and Garth Brooks. Click here to see some video clips of the performers from the Country Rising benefit concert,

A portion of those proceeds is being sent to the Orange area through a fund established in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana created its fund to help hurricane recovery efforts in both Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. That combination was a perfect match for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee when it was looking for ways to ensure that its concert funds reach the people directly. It’s a story of community foundations in Tennessee and Louisiana coming together to help their neighbors in need in southeast Texas.

“We are honored to be able to link the people of Orange County impacted by Harvey with the people in Tennessee who cared and responded with their gifts and generosity,” said Sara Judson, CEO of the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana. “With the connection among community foundations across the country, Middle Tennessee reached out to our foundation in Southwest Louisiana for recommendations on local needs, enabling them to strategically deploy their funds to help restore lives in devastated communities.”