By Casey Michel
By Dianna Wray
By Dianna Wray
By Sean Pendergast
By Casey Michel
By Cory Garcia
By Jeff Balke
By Craig Malisow
"I need to find deputies who have the right level of mental health crisis intervention training, with a combination of patrol experience, and won't take a deputy away from critical patrol responses," Garcia says.
Even West Oaks Hospital, a privately funded mental health care clinic, has started a CCSI pilot program that works in an outpatient setting specifically with the clients who are on the police department's list.
But despite the fact that the program has shown great results and is relatively cheap — it would have cost about $300,000 for another year — the city failed to deliver the funds, and MHMRA had to throw in its own money to keep it from shutting down.
Grantham was homeless for his first 15 months in Houston, but during that time, he received treatment and medication from MHMRA that kept him stable enough to work on finding a place to live, along with staying out of trouble and out of jail. He's also continued his streak of 12 years clean and sober.
Grantham has gone into crisis just once since living in Houston, during the weeks following Hurricane Ike when he ran out of his meds. Grantham made it to the NeuroPsych Center, an emergency room at Ben Taub Hospital for mentally ill patients in crisis, just as he'd been instructed to do. Doctors there gave him enough meds to keep him level until he could get a regular MHMRA appointment.
"I really think some people there are eager to help anyone who wants and needs help," Grantham says. "From the first time I went there, I was helped."
But if the proposed cuts go through, indigent people arriving in Houston or already living on the street, or the thousands of people who are simply uninsured, won't have a place for care. The cuts are stacked in such a way that it will take several years to see and feel the full effects in the city, but all told, 15 percent of the state's mental health funding, already one of the lowest in the country, will be gone.
Meaning, state lawmaker Coleman says, "These cuts are even more severe than it looks."
And it doesn't take much examination beyond the 2003 cuts in Houston, realizing what happened in the jails, the police department and the sheriff's office, to see what the result could be.
During Grantham's last trip to MHMRA, along with getting his meds adjusted to ease him out of a manic episode, his doctor also took him off an expensive psych med that cost $150 a month, nearly a quarter of his disability check. It's taking awhile to get used to the new drug, Grantham says, but the money will go a long way in finding a new place to live.
Grantham was also scheduled to see a caseworker for a "financial review." The woman wasn't working that day, however, and now Grantham has about two weeks to reschedule an appointment with her and get to the clinic, or he risks losing his service. He'll do what it takes to make the appointment, though, because Grantham knows the side of life without MHMRA.
Christopher Patronella Jr. contributed to this story.