Blazing a New Trail for Mental Health Consumers

By Couch, Terri | Behavioral Healthcare, August 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Blazing a New Trail for Mental Health Consumers

Couch, Terri, Behavioral Healthcare

One afternoon each month, the conference room at Bluebonnet Trails Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center in Williamson County, Texas, slowly fills with a diverse group of community leaders and decision makers from a wide array of agencies and organizations. They represent a variety of perspectives, including community mental health services, social services, physical health services, county government, criminal justice, and law enforcement. They are here to address an issue that can have a profound influence on the overall functioning and fiscal health of acommunity: the appropriate and effective provision of services to individuals with mental illnesses.


Williamson County, located north of Austin, was cited by as one of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the nation between July 2004 and July 2005. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county's population increased by 79.1% between 1990 and 2000. Since then, Williamson County has continued to grow, with a current population of 333,457.

With this staggering population increase, the county has experienced a rapid transition from a primarily rural area to a growing suburban/urban region with all of the problems and challenges inherent to developing metropolitan areas. According to Williamson County data, emergency medical services (EMS) calls due to mental health issues increased from 204 calls in 2002 to 606 in 2004. Emergency room visits related to mental health issues were up 43%, and local hospitals have had to provide uncompensated care. Medical and pharmaceutical expenses have escalated secondary to an increase in costs related to the number of individuals arrested requiring treatment tor mental illnesses. Other issues include:

* a high percentage of under- and/or uninsured residents;

* a shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners;

* no public transportation system;

* a low percentage of Medicaid-eligible individuals, contributing to a shortage of Medicaid providers and insufficient funding for services; and

* a need for additional services in the county's rural areas.

In 2003, the Williamson County Commissioners' Court heard constituents' concerns about these issues and the resultant gaps in mental health services. In response, the Commissioners' Court created the Williamson County Mental HealthCommittee, which began meeting in September 2003 under the leadership of the Commissioners' Court's project manager. Over the past three years, in a region with a history of political and fiscal conservatism, this group has explored the challenges of providing services to a growing number of people presenting with mental illness. These solution-focused meetings include discussions about increased social and legal concerns prompted by the county's rapid growth, as well as how to address these issues in light ot poor state government assistance (Texas rates 47th in the nation for per capita spending for mental health1).

Key Agencies

Mental Health Committee members include distinguished and prominentcommunity leaders, including:

* Commissioners' Court project manager (chair);

* staff member from the office of the state senator who represents Williamson County;

* the vice-chair of the Board of Trustees for Bluebonnet Trails;

* Williamson County district attorney;

* Williamson County assistant county attorney;

* Williamson County commissioner; and

* representatives from the sheriff's office, adult probation services, juvenile justice services, the Williamson County and Cities Health District, and other agencies.

Although the Mental Health Committee now represents more than ten agencies, organizations, and stakeholders, three entities have primary responsibility for responding to people with mental illnesses in Williamson County: Bluebonnet Trails, the Williamson County Mobile Outreach Team (MOT), and the Williamson County Sheriffs Office Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Blazing a New Trail for Mental Health Consumers


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.