Mental health options available for Orange County residents

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023

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Beginning in 2008, National Suicide Prevention Awareness month has been commemorated to address mental health concerns in order to prevent suicide and suicidal ideation in America.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in 2021 roughly 12.3 million adults and 3.3 million adolescents had serious suicidal thoughts, and suicide was the second-leading cause of death of youth and young adults.

To combat this at the national level, Becerra announced a $12 million investment in Zero Suicide, a national approach organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to improving quality of care for patients.

Additionally, close to $1 billion has been invested in the creation of 988, a Suicide & Crisis Lifeline that has received over 5 million calls, chats and text messages since its inception in 2022.

Team members Mental Health America of Southeast Texas, a nonprofit with a mission to promote mental wellness, spoke with Orange Newsmedia regarding the importance of whole health.

SETX Director Julie O’Malley’s message to the community communicates the universal nature of health care services.

Region 5 Education Service Centers Special Education Program Coordinator Halee Anthony stands with Katie Venable of Orange Public Library during a recent community event. (Shari Hardin/Special to The Leader)

“Mental health services are for everyone, and everyone deserves to have good mental health,” O’Malley said. “Some may just need assistance to get through a difficult time or a substantial life change, while others may need more. No one should fear judgment or shame for seeking mental health services.”

O’Malley noted many don’t think twice about telling someone they are receiving treatment for high blood pressure or broken arm, so asking for assistance to heal mental health should be no different.

“Poor mental health can lead to other medical issues, and seeking help to improve your mental health can minimize your risk of developing other health issues,” she said.

The Mental Health America of Southeast Texas website,, offers visitors an opportunity to complete free and easy self-given screening tools that may be completed in minutes.

While these tools aren’t meant to replace professional diagnoses, they may identify one’s need to seek care.

According to O’Malley, Orange County residents seeking affordable treatment have options.

“Our resource guides have listings for services and treatment available in Orange,” she said. “There are also virtual support group options that someone from Orange could access without driving to a meeting. Mental Health America has its own support community through Inspire. It enables individuals to connect on a variety of issues and topics related to mental health.”

Orange residents were able to hear from Region 5 Education Service Centers Special Education Program Coordinator Halee Anthony in September in connection with the Orange Public Library Adulting 101 Program.

During the session, Anthony introduced community members to healthy brain functioning, how trauma impacts the brain and strategies to promote whole health.

She also responded to questions regarding access to care and the perceived stigma associated with it.

“I think our area doesn’t have a lot of resources for mental health,” she said. “We have a lack of resources compared to other regions, and so while it may not be an extra stigma, there are barriers to it because we just don’t have as many resources. The state of Texas has TCHAT,T and it’s a free counseling service that any student in any school can receive.”

The free counseling services offered by TCHATT were made available in response to the passage of Texas Senate Bill 11.

School districts interested in offering this service to students may contact The University of Texas Medical System at

Mental Health America of Southeast Texas is located in Beaumont at 700 North Street, suite 95 and may be reached at 409-550-0134 or

The Region 5 Education Service Center is located at 350 Pine Street, suite 500 in Beaumont and is available at 409-951-1700.

— Written by Shari Hardin