June 15, 2011; Source: Current | NPQ has covered the state of funding for mental health services in Texas in Newswires and articles, particularly to surface the laudable research, public policy and pilot program work funded by the Hogg Foundation. This excellent work, however, is being done in the context of the worst funding environment of any of the 50 states.

One of the foundation’s emphases is the employment of people with mental illness in roles which are supportive of others in similar positions. This article talks about one such program, Our House, in San Antonio where a resilient community of self-help has been established. Mark Stoetlje, the executive director is quick to say that the place is not run by a bunch of professionals. “We do not do mental health treatment but we do think community, in a sense, is necessary treatment for mental illness.”

One community member who had been referred to Our House by his psychiatrist after a stint in the hospital said, “I was shocked when I got here. I’d been in these community programs before and you’re used to seeing people being like zombies . . . These folks right away were engaged, they said hello, shook my hand, and treated me like anybody else. That’s something I never had before,”

Elsewhere in this article it talks about the increasing needs for mental health services and the instability of even the sparse funding available but even in the midst of that, Our House extends itself, sending members out to do peer meetings with patients in hospital – talking with them about how to live outside the walls while there are waiting lists of hundreds for the few available beds.—Ruth McCambridge