|Harris County, it feels so wonderful to be home! I’ve been living with depression for a very long time, and this summer I finally sought the treatment that I needed. Right now I am feeling so lucky — lucky that I had the doctors to help me pinpoint what was wrong, lucky that I had the support system to help me get the care I needed, and lucky that you, the constituents that elected me as County Judge, have shown me so much support and understanding. The messages and calls I have received were so incredibly powerful and encouraging.
I know I’m not alone in facing depression. In our country, there’s a perfect storm brewing when it comes to mental health. Even before the pandemic, mental illness was one of the most common health problems among adults in the U.S. As a result of COVID, in Harris County we saw an increase in substance abuse, and many residents reported heightened stress and anxiety. Two years into the pandemic, the Texas Children’s Hospital recorded an 800% jump in children and youth intakes related to behavioral health. And in Texas, 62% of people living with a mental illness do not receive any treatment.
I am coming forward and speaking about my experience because I don’t want other people to feel like they have to suffer in silence. I was fortunate enough to be able to get treatment, and I want to demystify mental health care so that others feel comfortable getting treatment as well. This month is National Depression and Health Screening Month, and there is never a better time than the present to seek help. If you are in need of mental health resources, please contact the Harris Center or your health provider. Below are some resources you can reach out to:
- The Harris Center: You can call Harris County’s 24/7 crisis line at 713-970-7000 or visit www.theharriscenter.org.
- The National 988 Suicide and Crisis Line: If you know someone outside of Harris County who needs help, encourage them to call the National Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.
I know that my story won’t singlehandedly change the way we think about mental health, but I hope it does bring us one step closer to ending the stigma. My journey fighting depression isn’t over, but now I have the tools I need for the road ahead. I am dedicated to making those tools accessible to everyone in Harris County who needs them.