In the event of a natural disaster, mass casualty incident, or public health emergency, Community Centers work with federal, state, and local partners in disaster response and recovery efforts. Not only do Centers address urgent mental health needs of survivors, witnesses, and first responders, they also act as cornerstones for immediate and long-term community needs related to the event.
Texas Council works with the state Disaster Behavioral Health Services Department to coordinate Center disaster response preparedness and ensure Centers are ready to lead their communities in times of crisis.
In 2018, Hurricane Harvey directly affected service areas of 14 Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs) along the Gulf Coast and required coordinated response and support from many more Community Mental Health Centers across the state. The video below shows how Centers supported Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Mass Casualty Incidents
Since 2016, mass shooters took 69 lives in Texas communities. [This is, deeply unfortunately, no longer accurate. Remove sentence entirely?] Community Centers were on the front lines when their communities were deeply affected by mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe, El Paso, and Midland/Odessa. [Insert sentence about Uvalde and general future responsibility for aid?]
These tragedies devastated generations of Texas families and continue to affect community life in profound ways. Texas communities changed how they protect their classrooms, police their neighborhoods, and equip their ambulances and emergency rooms. These incidents also continue to radically alter how ordinary citizens perceive their personal safety.
Texas Council and Community Center leadership compiled lessons learned from these responses into a preparedness guide, published in May 2020.
Since 2020, 28 LMHAs have provided crisis counseling services across all 254 counties of Texas, responding to the mental health needs of Texans impacted by COVID-19. In 2021, the crisis counseling program was expanded to include services for survivors impacted by the February 2021 severe winter weather event.