Congregation Connection

As congregations and communities come together to support mental health and well-being, it can be overwhelming to learn the complicated public service system and various safety net providers, along with all the jargon that comes with it. Sometimes, people who would benefit from services face multiple challenges at once (known as co-occurring disorders), but many of the available services are isolated or separate from each other, and it can be confusing to navigate them. In this blog post, we’ll help you get familiar with the most common mental health resources available in Texas communities. By understanding these resources, we hope to make it easier for you to identify potential community partners and connect people with supports in your area. 

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Behavioral Health Services
In general, the term “behavioral health” is used to encompass both mental health and substance use. “Mental health” challenges typically involve changes in thinking, mood, and/ or behavior (e.g. Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia). “Substance use” challenges more often refer to people’s experiences with addiction and other forms of substance use that impede their ability to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home (e.g. Alcohol Use Disorder). Look here for more information about modern, non-pejorative language about behavioral health. 

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are significant, chronic mental or physical conditions that occur prior to age 22. These conditions typically last for the person’s lifetime and affect daily activities of living by impairing movement, sensory perception, or intellectual skills such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. Look here for more information about modern, non-pejorative language about IDD.  

Community Centers: Local Mental Health Authorities and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authorities
In general, IDD and behavioral health challenges are treated as distinct experiences, but some people navigate both. The public safety net mental health and IDD providers in Texas communities are Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs) and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authorities (LIDDAs) in each region. To learn more about these community centers and find the center in your community, visit the Texas Council of Community Centers’ website. In all but one instance, the same entity serves as a LMHA and a LIDDA, providing safety net services and maintaining a network of contracted providers. In addition, the centers typically provide local education and advocacy and participate in a wide range of community partnerships. 

Federally Qualified Health Centers and Veterans Affairs
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are both publicly funded service providers that provide behavioral health services. FQHCs’ behavioral health services are more limited and they typically refer people navigating more significant behavioral health challenges to the LMHA in their region for specialized services. Access to the VA is only for eligible military veterans, but for individuals who qualify, the services available tend to be extensive, particularly with respect to trauma-related support. 

Private Providers
It is beyond the scope of this blog to do a deep dive into providers in the private sector. If you’re looking for services in the private sector and would like to understand more about what different types of behavioral health professionals focus on, this may be a useful resource

Local Branches and Affiliates of National Organizations
In many communities across Texas, you’ll find a number of local branches of national organizations. At the national and state level, these organizations provide critical advocacy for behavioral health services funding. At the local level, the organizations typically provide education on behavioral health and host peer support groups of various types. An alphabetical list of these types of organizations and websites where you can find local affiliates is below. 

Clubhouses are based on an evidence-based model that focuses on providing people experiencing mental health challenges with a social community, referral and connection to resources, and participation in meaningful day-to-day activities. 

Consumer Operated Service Providers (COSPs), also known as Peer Run Organizations, most often offer peer support services in their local communities – list of COSPs funded by Texas Health and Human Services 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) affiliates typically offer peer-to-peer support groups and education – Homepage with Zip Code search 

Mental Health America affiliates various by region and often focus on local advocacy, education, and sometimes offer peer support programs – Affiliate Search Page 

Military Veterans Peer Network is a statewide network of military trauma-affected Veteran peer support, with local services connected to the LMHAs throughout the state – Search Page 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affiliates typically provide peer support programming for family members of people navigating behavioral health challenges and people with lived experience, as well as education in their local areas – Local NAMI Affiliates 

Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative primarily focuses on local organizing and education focused on suicide prevention – List of Coalition Partners 

In 2023, the Congregational Engagement Team will offer a Mental Health Learning Network Series to support congregations as they promote mental health in their communities. The Learning Network is a next step for Episcopal congregations looking for imaginative ways to connect, deepen strategies for promoting mental health and well-being, and gain experience using virtual meeting platforms to invite meaningful conversation. Learn more and register: