Although 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID-19, for the Harris Center, this was the year we demonstrated continuity of care through COVID-19 and overcame obstacles that showcased our resilience, innovation and passion for providing quality care to our clients. We are proud of our achievements this fiscal year. First, we transitioned the majority of our employees to work remotely within days, putting the health and safety of our staff and clients as our priority. For the people we serve, we transitioned to a telehealth service structure, establishing a new curbside pharmacy pick up process and implemented numerous safety protocols to ensure social distancing and providing a safe and sanitized environment for our in-clinic visitors.

Emerging Stronger

In partnership with the Texas Health and Human Services, we were able to launch a statewide 24/7 COVID-19 mental health support line. We launched additional virtual support groups to help front line workers impacted by the pandemic and expanded our crisis line staff to meet the demands. In addition, our staff worked diligently to develop new programs and partnerships to improve care and services. In FY2020, for example, we partnered with the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center and Open Door Mission to launch a temporary 24-hour program, assisting people with mental illness in Houston’s homeless community. We also obtained a 3-year CARF accreditation, a testament to our advancement of quality services and our commitment to being one of the best mental health and IDD care providers available in the country.

Looking Ahead

We serve our clients with passion, knowledge and personalized attention. As COVID-19 and the related changes in business and society have accelerated our need for innovative transformation, we have persevered and remained a strong resource for our community. I would like to take a moment to thank our entire community, staff and partners for your continued support and dedication to transforming the lives of people with behavioral health and IDD needs. Together, we continue to make a difference.

Wayne Young, MBA, LPC, FACHE

Chief Executive Officer

Service Numbers

Continuity of Care during a Global Pandemic

Support for Frontline Workers

To support frontline workers who provide an essential or key public service, The Harris Center extended its support to offer free virtual support groups for essential staff in our community. Please call the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line at 1-833-986-1919 for more information.

Homeless Shelter Partnership

In response to the pandemic, The Harris Center, UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center and Open Door Mission worked collaboratively to open a 24-hour residential program to assist people with mental illness in Houston’s homeless community after discharge from inpatient care.

The facility offered 28 beds, supporting individuals in a non-stressful environment, while aiming to reduce the occurrence of communal spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Telehealth: Care without Limits

This year, The Harris Center expanded telehealth access for behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services for Harris County residents.

Within a week, we transitioned approximately 1,800 employees to work remotely from home to deliver care either via phone or Lifesize.

223% Increase in telehealth capacity to provide safe and effective care to our clients during the early stages of the pandemic

Texans Recovering Together

The Texans Recovering Together program provides services to support individuals most impacted by disasters, offering emotional support and interventions, referrals and linkages, education and awareness and skill building.

In recent years, The Harris Center has responded to major disasters by providing crisis counseling services to Harris County residents. In this fiscal year, The Harris Center provided support to individuals affected by Tropical Storm Imelda, and are currently providing free emotional support to people who are experiencing anxiety due to COVID-19.

If you would like to learn more about the Texans Recovering Together program in Harris County, please contact 833-927-1806 or send an email to TRT@TheHarrisCenter.org.

Increasing Integrated Care Coordination

Electronic Health Record

In fiscal year 2020, The Harris Center launched the EPIC implementation, an Electronic Health Record system (EHR) that will facilitate the coordination of patient care across multiple healthcare systems.

The Harris Center is working with Harris Health to implement a best-in-class EHR system to support the center’s complex healthcare operations.

Reinforcing The Harris Center’s strategic plan goal of improving care through innovation, the EHR system will allow sharing of patient information among caregivers, greater patient engagement and best practices to improve health outcomes for Harris County residents. The convenient mobile app will allow patients to take a more active role in their treatment.

Improving the Integrated Care Delivery System

To create an improved network model of care, and our client’s overall health outcomes, The Harris Center has developed a new integrated care delivery system to coordinate community primary care, prevention and wellness activities on-site. In collaboration with first responders, law enforcement and hospital staff, the goal is to decrease the utilization of preventable emergency and hospital services, offering a proactive approach to improve the lives of our clients and enhance their care experience.

Project CHANGE

Finding youth mental health services can be difficult. To help families in accessing quality care, Project CHANGE has joined forces with communities in Harris County and the Texas System of Care to meet that challenge by offering personalized services and support.

Through Project CHANGE we provide wraparound mental health services to people, aged 18-21, who are transitioning from youth to adulthood.

Strengthening collaborations of mental health supports and services in the greater Houston area into a seamless system of care for children, youth and their families.

A unique feature of this program is the inclusion of a Youth Peer Support Specialist to work alongside the clinical team. By drawing on the youth’s own lived experience, navigating both the behavioral health systems and the criminal justice system, our Youth Peer Support Specialist connects with young adults on a different level - inspiring hope and serving as an advocate for those in the program.

Positive Status Reports

New Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program Provides Life-Changing Opportunities

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, in partnership with Harris County Probate Court 3 and the University of Houston, received a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program for people with serious mental illness.

This four year project will help build a coalition of stakeholders involved in the civil commitment process to expand existing service capabilities.

As with most large and growing communities in the country, Harris County’s mental health system struggles to keep pace with the expanding demand for services, particularly for individuals with acute needs. The Houston AOT Program serves uninsured or under-insured people with serious mental illness who have consistently struggled with adherence to outpatient treatment, including missed appointments and failure to take medication as prescribed. AOT will aim to reduce the number and duration of inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, incarcerations and interactions with the criminal justice system while improving treatment engagement, treatment adherence and functional outcomes. This program is designed to work with courts to allow these individuals to obtain treatment while continuing to live in the community and their homes.

“Through this grant, the Houston AOT Program can provide life-changing opportunities to Harris County residents who are struggling with mental illness,” said Judge Jason Cox of Harris County Probate Court 3. “We know from research that Assisted Outpatient Treatment can reduce risks such as hospitalization, arrest, incarceration, crime, victimization and violence; we at the Court are excited to work and collaborate with The Harris Center and our other community partners to help these individuals reach their highest potential.”

AOT services include comprehensive health and behavioral health services provided through evidence-based interventions, such as case management, motivational interviewing, psychosocial rehabilitation, cognitive processing therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), substance abuse treatment and other services, as appropriate.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment fills a significant gap in our mental health delivery system in Harris County. With the availability of these intensive services and collaboration with our partners, we can help people with serious mental illness avoid jail, hospitalization and psychiatric emergency services.

Jail Diversion Program Keypoints

The Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center opened in September 2018. Since its induction, external evaluators have found the center has helped reduce the number of jail admissions for low-level misdemeanors among individuals experiencing a mental health illness.

To date, approximately 3,100 mentally ill individuals have been successfully diverted from the criminal justice system to a program that helps them receive proper treatment for their illness.

To demonstrate the program’s impact, below are outcomes validated by our external evaluators:

Expanded CORE Program

The Clinician-Officer Remote Evaluation (CORE) pilot program, in partnership with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), was so successful, the program was dramatically expanded in FY2020.

HCSO expanded its telepsychiatry program from 20 to 100 deputies.

CORE’s mission is to promptly and accurately assess individuals within Houston and Harris County experiencing a mental health crisis to avoid unnecessary hospitalization and incarceration.

Our Impact

Reframed Thinking Leads to an Improved Mother-Daughter Relationship

Rachelle McCoy

“A recent client of mine, Rachelle, had issues connecting with her mother. Her mother, an assistant principal who is working towards an advanced degree in education, struggled to balance work, family and school demands during these demanding times. While Rachelle understood the reasoning, she was still frustrated with the lack of time she was able to spend with her mother. Apart from her familial relationship issues, she also had trouble completing her homework assignments on time.

To help guide Rachelle through these struggles, we focused our time on reframing her thinking around the relationship with her mother, allowing Rachelle to appreciate the moments when she was able to connect with her mother. We also worked to improve her reactions to certain situations, as her initial reactions were to become angry and frustrated.

Throughout the process, Rachelle progressed wonderfully and was able to address the issues in her relationship with her mother, and to view it from a different perspective. She was excited to work on emotion-based activities and was able to reflect upon her own feelings and emotions, something she had struggled with in the past.

Although Rachelle had maintained reasonable grades, disorganization and prioritization of tasks was something she struggled with. To help guide her to success, we worked extensively on organizing her assignments and writing them down. Journaling, and creating a bulleted list of tasks, allowed her to stay on track and gave her a sense of pride and joy as this contributed to the improvement of her grades. She was later granted multiple scholarships from several colleges in the area. She ultimately selected Stephen F. Austin State University, and received enough scholarships to cover the majority of her tuition and fees.

Earlier in the year, a week before her 18th birthday, Rachelle’s case was closed. Before the final session, I had a discussion with her mother, and she stated that her relationship with Rachelle has improved greatly and her outbursts have completely subsided. I have kept in touch with Rachelle and she also reports she is doing very well, is performing well in school and is pursuing a degree in education - just like her mother.”

- Mariken de Monchy, LCSW-S

TRIAD therapist

“Danny is Now Walking” - A Letter from a Proud Mother

“Dear Mr. Jones,

Our son Danny was born at 24 weeks at 1lb 15oz, spent 4.5months in the NICU and another 4 months on oxygen while at home. He is now 17 months old.

His birth was by far the most challenging thing our family has ever faced. We have been worried about his development from the very moment he was born. This week, thanks to your amazing team member Melanie, he started walking! This is a HUGE milestone for us and something we have been dreaming and praying about for the past year and a half.

Even though we have never met Melanie in-person, as we conducted all of our visits virtually, we can tell she is a special person. Her kindness and compassion shine through the screen. She has coached us through many important milestones in Danny’s development, helping him to crawl, stand and now walk...each time giving us specific instructions

that help him progress rapidly. And all this, from her home in the midst of a pandemic! She has provided reassurance when we needed it. She has crawled around her room to demonstrate techniques for us. She has even incorporated our 3-year-old daughter who often likes to participate in her baby brother’s physical therapy sessions. Above all, she has answered our countless questions with competence and a calm demeanor.

We are forever grateful to her. She has done a stellar job and her work means the world to our family. It’s important to us that we pause and thank the many healthcare workers who have helped to make our miracle baby healthy and strong.

Wishing you and your team continued success and pandemic protection.”


Danny’s Mother

*The name of the client and his family have been altered to safeguard their privacy.

Stuck in the Railroad Tracks

“The Harris Center has partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to accept incoming local calls at The Harris Center’s Crisis Line. Earlier this year, we received a caller who was inebriated and sitting on the railroad tracks with the intent to die. After talking with the caller about his concerns and providing therapeutic support and crisis interventons, he decided he wanted to live. It was at this point, the caller realized his boot was stuck in the railroad tracks and he could not get out.

We worked with our team to call 911 who connected with the railroad service to halt all trains in the area until the caller was safely removed from harm by police officers. The officers escorted the caller home.

The Crisis Line team followed up with the caller multiple times and were able to connect him to SpindleTop Center,the local community mental health center in his area, for ongoing care. The caller called us back the next day to thank the team for talking with him and letting us know that doesn’t plan on harming himself ever again.“

-Bailey and Kandace, Crisis Line Team Members

Andrew’s Progress

“*Andrew was referred to our Juvenile Justice department by probation in August 2019 for verbal and physical aggression. He was placed on probation for possession of cocaine. Upon meeting Andrew, he was very adamant on continuing drug use and dropping out of school. Andrew recently lost his father during the COVID-19 pandemic that caused minor relapse of behaviors. This resulted in the extension of his probation, for monitoring purposes. Andrew was optimistic and successfully completed probation in June 2020.

I’ve personally seen growth these past few months with Andrew’s behavior and decision making. He has recently started his Graduate Equivalency Degree (also known as “GED”) and reports no drug usage. He has also gained employment since the loss of his father to assist his mother. Andrew reaches out to me on occasion to report positive progression. He has done well with conflict resolution and has also improved communication with authority figures and hopes to continue maximizing his potential.”

-Tashica Nelson, Care Coordinator

*The name of the client and his family have been altered to safeguard their privacy.

Fiscal Year 2020 Financials

Inclusion Hub

The Harris Center established the Inclusion Hub council to lead cultural change and increase diversity awareness within the organization. Employees who are part of the Inclusion Hub collaborate and share ideas to implement engaging activities to integrate diversity into organizational processes and communication.