Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

Synopsis

Circuit Riders for Mental Health explores for the first time the transformation of popular understandings of mental health, the reform of scandal-ridden hospitals and institutions, the emergence of community mental health services, and the extension of mental health services to minority populations around the state of Texas. Author William S. Bush focuses especially on the years between 1940 and 1980 to demonstrate the dramatic, though sometimes halting and conflicted, progress made in Texas to provide mental health services to its people over the second half of the twentieth century. At the story's center is the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, a private-public philanthropic organization housed at the University of Texas.

For the first three decades of its existence, the Hogg Foundation was the state's leading source of public information, policy reform, and professional education in mental health. Its staff and allies throughout the state described themselves as "circuit riders" as they traveled around Texas to introduce urban and rural audiences to the concept of mental health, provide consultation for all manner of social services, and sometimes intervene in thorny issues surrounding race, ethnicity, gender, class, region, and social and cultural change.

Excerpt

One evening in January 2015, a seventeen-year-old woman named Kristiana Coignard walked into a police station in Longview, Texas, and requested to speak with a police officer. When three officers arrived in the lobby, they noticed that Coignard had a kitchen knife in her belt and the words “I Have a Gun” written on her hand. Video surveillance subsequently released to the public showed a sequence of events that lasted for about twenty minutes. in the video, Coignard can be seen being restrained and then released, brandishing her knife at the officers, and finally charging the officers with the knife in hand. the incident ended with multiple gunshots to Coignard’s chest, resulting in her death. Media reports expressed confusion over the reasons for Coignard’s actions and outrage at what many perceived as an excessive use of force. Coignard’s lack of a criminal record or any history of violent behavior caused some observers to lump the incident in with other controversial police shootings of civilians in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. As it had in those more notorious cases, the hacker group Anonymous launched a cyber-attack against the Longview police department’s website; in fact, several of the Longview city agency websites were hacked and unavailable as a result. the release of video footage of the incident did little to quell matters. Indeed, after viewing the Longview police video, Coignard’s father, a former correctional officer himself, lambasted the officers for their inability to restrain his teenage daughter without the use of firearms. the officers “shouldn’t have allowed the situation to escalate the way it did,” he concluded. “My daughter should still be alive.”

Within days of the shooting, it was reported that Coignard had lived with mental illness for much of her brief life. in an interview given to the website Think Progress, Coignard’s aunt revealed that her biological mother had died when she was four years old and that she had struggled with bipolar disorder and depression for “most of her life.” a native of San Antonio, Coignard had been hospitalized twice following suicide attempts and had moved . . .

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