A special presentation during Tuesday’s lunch Kiwanis Club meeting spotlighted Texoma Community Center, its service to Cooke County-area clients and its continued need for support.
Director Tony Maddox discussed the center with Kiwanis members — defining it as a state-sanctioned, “quasi-governmental” entity that treats people with mental health and developmental disabilities throughout Cooke, Grayson and Fannin counties.
And though it qualifies as governmental and coordinates with state agencies, he said, the center itself operates outside the strict definition of a bonafide state agency. It receives only roughly half of its funding from the state.
“It earns its own money and pays its own salaries and benefits,” Maddox explained during his presentation. “Not an easy thing with the same amount of money from the state over the past 20 years.”
More about the center
The center is dependent on money from local governments, plus privately raised funds and money from third-party payers. In its earlier incarnation, Texoma Community Center was called Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services of Texoma, and opened in 1975.
• It is under contract with four state agencies: The Department of State Health Service for Mental Health Treatment, the Department of Aging and Disabilities for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services, the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services for Early Childhood Intervention service and the Texas Commission on Offenders with Mental and Medical Impairment.
• It offers the following programs: Early Childhood Intervention, for children ages newborn to age 3 who have a perceived developmental delay or are at risk for life-long developmental delays; the Intellectual Disabilities Program; for patients with sub-average intellectual functioning (intelligence quotient of 70 or less); and services for individuals with mental disorders who have been in jail and are released to the center on probation or parole.
Local mental health issues
Around 26 percent (one in four) of the population — people ages age 18 and over — have a diagnosable mental illness during a given year.
One in 17 (6 percent) suffer from severe (chronic and persistent) mental illness. Causal factors of mental illness can include psychological or physiological stressors, social influences, biochemical and neurological pathway interactions, genetics, abuse of alcohol or drugs, infections and head trauma.
Community-based services, Maddox said Tuesday, can be effective.
Of adults and children receiving public community-based mental health services, 97 percent have avoided a crisis episode; 98 percent have avoided multiple hospital re-admissions; 84 percent of adults have improved employment; and 90 percent of children have avoided re-arrest.
Maddox also pointed out that during fiscal year 2012, Texoma Community Center treated a monthly average of 855 adults with severe mental illness (approximately 200 over its contact with the state); provided a monthly average of 150 face-to-face mental health crisis interventions; treated a monthly average of 146 children with mental illness (approximately 100 over its contract with the state); provided training and supports to a monthly average of 126 people with intellectual disabilities (approximately 55 over its contract with the state); and provided early childhood (ages 0 to 3) intervention and therapeutic services to a monthly average of 190 children and their families.
Funding and support
Maddox explained that in 2003, Texas severely cut its community mental health budget. Mental diagnoses in 20 Central Texas emergency rooms jumped by 79 percent during the next year. Large counties began experiencing steady increases in average jail health care expenditures.
Despite those findings, he said, Texas has one of the most efficient and effective public mental health systems — having adopted some of the best practices in the nation. However, the state is ranked 50th in per capita funding.
And although Texoma Community Center has struggled, and managed to not have a waiting list, the statewide average monthly number of people waiting for services was 6,844 in 2010. Thus, the best way to prevent the need for state hospitalization is providing people with serious mental illness effective and accessible community-based services.
For more information, visit www.mhmrst.org or call (903) 957-4701.