County approves mental health proclamation

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In proclaiming May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the county was told that it was underserved by mental health professionals, and more education was needed to battle a growing disease.

Julie Overstreet with the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses and a mental health advocate in the Brazos Valley, said on Monday that a recent evaluation showed that mental health is the No. 1 need in the area, more than all other health needs.

Additionally, more days lost to mental health issues were reported in the area, at a rate higher than the national and state averages, particularly in the older and veteran populations.

Then, she said, the mental health professional-to-population ratio in Madison County is one for every 3,470, and in Texas, it’s one for every 990 persons.

The optimum rate is one for each 347 people, she said.

“Basically, there are no mental health professionals in the county, and that’s a problem,” she said.

NAMI, the Telehealth Counseling Clinic and the Madison County Health Resource Center provide education and teleconferencing with mental health

Carly McCord, director of Clinical Services for Texas A&M and the Telehealth clinic, said the take-home message is that Madison County and the Brazos Valley are significantly underserved, not having the workforce to provide the proper service.

The clinic, which is provided free for people 13 and up through MHRC, offers counseling by advanced doctoral students in psychology via videoconference or telephone, which is funded by a grant, McCord said.

In Madison County, the program has provided more than 1,000 sessions in the seven years of the program’s existence, she said.

In a separate matter, the county approved the hiring of Donna Cuevas as a replacement for April Covington as an administrative assistance, but not before there was dissention regarding pay.

Cuevas initially was hired at $15.50 per hours, but Judge C.E. McDaniel asked that the pay level be set at $18.50 per hour, seeking to bypass the county’s salary committee.

McDaniel said Covington was making $19.50 per hour, and that the responsibilities of the job extend to more than just assisting the county judge.

The new salary and new hire were approved, with Commissioner Carl Cannon voting against.

In other business, the county:

•approved the placement of a temporary wireless tower on the courthouse to be used for the Texas Mushroom Festival in October; and

•approved issuing requests for proposals for engineering services related to a disaster recovery grant.

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