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Medicine & Science
Okay to Say™ to Host Event Focusing on Mental Health Effects from Hurricane Harvey
News Release
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Grass-roots mental health organization and Houston-area partners will sponsor the public event that includes a celebrity keynote speaker, a mental health panel discussion and award presentation.

Houston —Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute’s Okay to Say™ campaign, The Hackett Center for Mental Health and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work are hosting “Healing after Harvey: The Effects to Mental Health Six Months Later,” on Thursday, March 8, at the University of Houston Alumni Center. This public event will focus on the effects traumatic events like Hurricane Harvey can have on mental health, share available resource and offer hope through the stories of those who have overcome their struggles.

“The Houston and Gulf Coast region has faced a harrowing set of challenges over the last six months, and disasters like Hurricane Harvey can leave lasting, harmful effects on the mental health of children, youths and adults alike, said Andy Keller, PhD, President and CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “It is important for people to know they are not alone, that it helps to talk about it, and that there are resources available to help them heal.”

The event will be emceed by Elizabeth McIngvale, PhD, founder of the non-profit organization Peace of Mind and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor University. The daughter of local celebrity Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Dr. McIngvale has publicly shared her personal battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Her father will also be in attendance to receive the Okay to Say Community Hero Award, in recognition for his advocacy for mental health awareness, following his daughter’s diagnosis, and for his immense contribution to the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey.  

The afternoon’s keynote speaker will be author and actress Mara Wilson, an Okay to Say supporter, diagnosed at a young age with OCD, anxiety and depression, who credits early diagnosis and treatment for her successful management of her mental illness.  Speaking openly about her mental health has helped her overcome her fear of the stigma that is associated with mental illness.

Dr. Andy Keller will moderate a panel discussion featuring mental health professionals from the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and Americares, a non-profit disaster relief and global health organization providing immediate response to emergency medical needs in Houston and south Texas. Panel members will talk about the mental health triggers that follow natural disasters or traumatic events, and what signs to look for in yourself, family and friends. The event will conclude with an audience question and answer segment with panelists.

Houston-area Okay to Say partners will be on hand to connect the public to local resources. The event is free but seating is limited, so the public is encouraged to RSVP online.

About Okay to Say™

Okay to Say is a community-based campaign launched by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and its partners to increase public awareness that most mental illnesses are treatable and to offer a

message of hope and recovery to Texans and their families. The goal of Okay to Say is to change the conversation and perceptions around mental illness, which ultimately can lead to: growing understanding, advocacy and support for those with mental illness; improving access to community services for diagnosis and treatment; and accelerating progress in the quality and delivery of mental health care. 

The statewide effort has received support from George W. Bush, Mark Cuban, Rhett Miller and hundreds of other Texans. Individuals are encouraged to add their name and pledge their support at okaytosay.org. Individuals can even share stories of how mental health issues have affected them or a loved one and include statements of support, photos and videos.

About the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports the implementation of policies and programs to help Texans obtain effective, efficient mental health care when and where they need.

For more information about the Institute, please visit texasstateofmind.org. To join the Okay to Say movement, visit okaytosay.org.

About The Hackett Center for Mental Health

The Hackett Center for Mental Health was founded by Maureen and Jim Hackett to establish a regional center in Houston focused on making Harris County and the broader Gulf Coast region a national leader in treating people with mental health needs. The Hackett Center will convene academic and clinical thought leaders to foster systemic change through collaboration and research.




Remembering Jim Guidry GRCC Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership


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