A look at mental health resources in the Brazos Valley
This situation with Chester Jackson is a reminder about the ongoing challenges with mental health resources in Texas, particularly in rural areas.
Jackson became critically ill after undergoing treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Austin. Before that, he was arrested in Burleson County. Video at the jail in Caldwell appears to show an officer knocking a shackled Jackson to the ground, causing him to hit his head.
Experts say mental illness continues to have a stigma in Texas, but some believe the perception is improving.
"It is the number one most-given reason for individuals not seeking therapy, because they don't want anybody to think they're crazy. So they don't want to speak up about what they're dealing with or living with, so the stigma is horrible," said Jody Schulz, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Brazos Valley Executive Director.
There are hotlines and some treatment facilities available, while non-profits like NAMI Brazos Valley work with patients and families.
"Unfortunately, I sound like a broken record. For the last five years. I've been telling you guys and everybody else that will listen is that there are not enough resources for families," she said. "And if they are available, it's hard to get into them," added Schulz.
Schulz sees the challenges first-hand, as a professional and as a parent.
"I'm in the business, you know. I'm educated, and I still sometimes have to resort to calling law enforcement to get my son into a situation where he's stable or safe," she explained. "When they're ill, they don't, a lot of times, just don't have the insight to know that they're ill," said Schulz.
Students at the Texas A&M Health Science Center are learning counseling skills.
"We don't have enough behavioral health specialists to meet the needs of Texans," said Carly McCord, a Texas A&M Health Science Center Clinical Assistant Professor.
McCord connects patients to professionals using the internet.
"Mental illness is going to affect one in four individuals in their lifetime," said McCord. I run all our telebehavioral health programs, too," said McCord. "I believe that telehealth will be an important part of the future to help bridge the providers that we do have, which are mostly located in our big cities, out to our rural areas," she said.
Experts say you can check with your insurance provider for more resources for mental health.
You can also reach out to MHMR of the Brazos Valley. We have more resources attached in the related links section.
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