Houston's Mental Health Division with the HCSO's mental health personnel (2016)

Houston Police Department

The Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) started an official collaboration with the Houston Police Department on October 27, 2011, with a joint Harris County Sheriff's Office/Houston Police Department (HPD) Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) that serves the entire Houston/Harris County region. The inter-local agreement was approved by Harris County Commissioner's Court and Houston City Council and allows the Harris County Sheriff's Office to join with HPD and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD's existing CIRT program. The joint approach allows resources to be combined throughout the city and county in an effort to reach the needs of citizens struggling with serious mental health problems throughout the entire Harris County.

Since that initial collaboration, the HCSO and HPD have collaborated on developing the HCSO Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). Members of both agencies' CIRT and HOT train together and collaborate on many issues. The HCSO and HPD have a very strong working relationship regarding response strategies for responding to the mentally ill and homeless.


Harris County District Attorney's Office

Diverting people with serious mental illnesses - who have committed petty, nuisance type crimes - is a priority in the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Optimal diversion keeps these individuals from ever entering into the criminal justice system. It is much harder to remove them once they enter the system.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office, under District Attorney Kim Ogg, is working closely with Major Mike Lee on diversion projects and programs. District Attorney Ogg is committed to the diversion of the mentally ill, when appropriate, and has expanded her office's Mental Health Unit. The Harris County District Attorney's Office is one a few district attorney's offices with assistant district attorneys dedicated to issues involving the mentally ill. The HCSO is fortunate to have a very strong working relationship with the Harris County District Attorney's Office and District Attorney Kim Ogg.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD

The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center), formerly the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, is a significant partner with the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO). The behavioral health professionals assigned to the jail are employees of The Harris Center and the clinicians who ride with the HCSO's Crisis Intervention Response Team deputies are employees of The Harris Center. Dr. Steven Schnee, Executive Director, is fully supportive of criminal justice and training and programs to assist criminal justice respond to the mentally ill safely, professionally, and effectively.

Dr. Schnee helped change the procedures in Harris County for law enforcement officers obtaining a mental health warrant. The process used to take seven hours, on average, to complete. One of the primary reasons for this long process was a lack of beds in Harris County for individuals in need of emergency mental health treatment. Dr. Schnee opened the Neuropsychiatric Center in 1999 to address this problem. The seven-hour process was reduced to approximately 30 minutes! And he helped reduce the paperwork involved in this process from seven pages to one.


Mental Health America of Greater Houston

Mental Health America (MHA) of Greater Houston, established in 1954 by philanthropist Ima Hogg, is the area’s longest serving mental health education and advocacy organization focused on shaping the mental health of people and communities in the areas of children and education, integrated health care, chronic illnesses, women, suicide prevention, veterans and aging.

MHA works to replace misperceptions and misunderstanding about mental illness with compassion and proper treatment; links people to mental health services; provides education and training for key sectors of the community; removes barriers to mental health care by facilitating change in systems and advocates for legislative solutions that address the vast unmet need for public mental health services.

Our Mission

MHA of Greater Houston’s mission is to enhance the mental health of all Houstonians and improve the lives of those with mental illnesses. MHA accomplishes this through collaborations, education, outreach and advocacy.

Supporting Law Enforcement

Former Executive Director Betsy Schwartz helped develop and implement the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program in Houston/Harris County. MHA's support of CIT continues with current Executive Director Susan Fordice.

The Houston Recovery Center

The Houston Recovery Center (AKA Sobering Center and Houston Center for Sobriety) is meant to be an alternative to jail for people whose only offense is public intoxication, allowing them to regain sobriety in a safe, medically-monitored environment. Once detainees are sober, they meet with professional counselors who offer long-term treatment referrals to appropriate social service agencies. By not booking these offenders into the city jail, officers are able to return to their neighborhood patrols more quickly.The 84-bed facility is located in a two-story building at 150 North Chenevert Street, Houston 77002. It is managed by a local government corporation created by Houston City Council. Annual operating costs are approximately $1.5 million, compared to the $4 million to $6 million it cost to process public intoxication cases at the city jail.The Houston Recovery Center was implemented by Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

The Center's Goals
  • Provide triage, observation and necessary support services to manage intoxication
  • Provide opportunities for long-term treatment by linking individuals to appropriate community resources
  • Open the door for a pathway to recovery for those with a substance use disorder
  • Provide an alternative to jail
  • Increase holding capacity in the city jail for more serious criminals
  • Reduce HPD field personnel’s time processing this target population so they return to their assigned neighborhoods to address more serious crime and disorder problems


Providing a safe environment serves an immediate need for individuals under the influence, but long-term recovery is the goal of the Houston Recovery Center. The staff aims to build rapport with clients to help them on the road to recovery and support them as they continue down that path. To accomplish this, the Houston Recovery Center collects data from clients and the community to see what gaps exist in the continuum of care for those in need. Our vision for the future is to help fill in those gaps so that everyone who is ready to accept help has the opportunity to receive it.


NAMI Greater Houston

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Houston works very closely with the Harris County Sheriff's Office (HCSO). NAMI sponsors a CIT Deputy award where they recognize a deputy who has gone above and beyond in responding to an individual in serious mental health crisis. They provide the deputy with a very nice plaque (shown above) and include a write up of the situation in their newsletter. NAMI also provides a speaker for HCSO mental health classes.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, NAMI is an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

NAMI offers educational material and classes in thousands of communities across the United States and they shape national public policy for people with mental illness and their families.



The Isensee Foundation for Safe Police Response

Sean Darrell Isensee died in 2013 during a mental health crisis. Sean had developed bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in his late teens. He struggled with that for the rest of his life. On the last day of his life, when he needed the best type of response from emergency responders and others, he did not get it. Instead, he was shot and killed by a police officer. The foundation works in his memory (and those of others like him) to prevent similar tragedies.

The Isensee Foundation provides speakers at conferences and for the HCSO's mental health training. The foundation is very pro-police and is working WITH criminal justice to help keep everyone safe.




The Coalition for the Homeless

The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide leadership in the development, advocacy, and coordination of community strategies to prevent and end homelessness.

The Coalition was established in 1982, incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1988, and has evolved to be the lead agency coordinating the community response to homelessness in Houston. Under the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act passed in 2009, an entire community, rather than individual service providers, must demonstrate success in preventing and reducing homelessness. in 2011, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) named Houston as a priority community. This designation recognizes the great need to transform Houston’s existing homeless service system and the tremendous opportunity to make significant advances due to the commitment of homeless service agencies and the contributions of key community stakeholders.

Although the Coalition does not provide any direct services to clients, it serves as the backbone organization to many other groups that do. The Coalition serves those who serve the homeless through research, project management, system capacity building, and public policy.

Today, the major project of the Coalition is serving as lead agency for the Houston/Harris County Continuum of Care (CoC). This work creates an improved homeless service system that more effectively provides services, support, and housing to all sub-populations within the Houston area’s homeless community, with a primary focus on moving individuals and families out of homelessness.

The ultimate goal of the Houston/Harris County CoC is a homeless service system that achieves reduction in new instance of, length of, and returns to homelessness, and meets the varying needs of homeless sub-populations such as unaccompanied youth, veterans, and families with children.




SEARCH Homeless Services

SEARCH Homeless Services is an interfaith, nonprofit organization founded in 1989 to respond to the growing number of people experiencing homelessness in Houston. A coalition of congregations representing diverse ethnic, social, and spiritual backgrounds offered critical support for individuals and families who were homeless and concentrated on one question: How do you empower an individual to focus beyond mere survival, and work toward a happy, healthy, and most importantly, independent life?

 SEARCH is a leading homeless service provider in the Greater Houston community. The hallmark of the SEARCH mission is its flexibility and focus on the needs of each individual. Today, the challenges we face are substantially greater than those of the past. Lack of affordable housing, reduced public assistance, health insurance cutbacks, and wages not keeping up with the cost of living all contribute to an increase in the homeless population.





Operation ID

In our world today, a photo ID has become a basic need; it provides access to nearly all aspects of business and social life. If you are homeless, have just been released from prison, or have experienced some other form of personal crisis and you don't have a Texas ID card, we are here to help.

Our dedicated volunteers at Main Street Ministries have provided ID assistance to the Houston community for over three decades. We can assist you in gathering the documentation, completing the forms and providing funding for your official state-issued ID so that you can focus on getting a job, securing housing, enrolling your kids in school or other life stabilizing goals.

If you do not have the required paperwork to apply, we will help you track down the secondary and supporting documents you need. We encourage you to work first with your sending agency to gather as many of these documents as possible to speed up the process.

Supporting documents could include, but are not limited to: Birth certificate, social security records, school records, medical records, or voter's registration card.

If you are seeking financial support for your ID, you must present a referral letter from an approved partner agency in order to receive identification assistance.

For more information, please leave us a voicemail at (281) 833-3508 and your call will be returned on our next working day.



Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM)

NAM was formed by 10 Covenant Congregations who agreed to set aside their theological differences and pool their resources in a manner to better serve community needs. NAM has served north and northwest Harris County since 1983 and currently has approximately 85 employees and 2,500 volunteers.

NAM’s founding congregations were St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Northwoods Presbyterian Church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, Kinsmen Lutheran Church, Hosanna Lutheran Church, Congregation Jewish Community North, Wildewood Baptist Church, Cypress Creek Christian Church, Klein United Methodist Church, and Plymouth United Church (U.C.C.).

In the intervening years, numerous additional congregations have joined with the original 10 to support NAM’s programs and services, and several Service Partner organizations and business Community Partners have committed to supporting NAM as well.

NAM’s first year budget was less than $50,000, which was targeted for rent and set-up costs. NAM has experienced tremendous growth through the years and its2014-15 projected budget is over $10 million. In 2015-16, the organization touched the lives of more than 114,000 people through its programs and services.

In January 2014, NAM launched its Roots & Wings capital campaign to build a Retail and Training Center on its property. That same year, the NAM Endowment Fund launched a formal planned giving program.




HOPE Center

The 1960 corridor, now known as the Cypress Creek Parkway, has become a major center for the homeless in Houston. They have tent cities in many wooded areas. On rainy nights they huddle in doorways in an attempt to stay dry. During the day some work, some panhandle, and others search for food.

These are people like us; this could be any of us. A major medical bill, the loss of a job, a divorce or mental illness could put many of us on the streets.

The 1960 Hope Center was opened to offer basic human services to our homeless brothers and sisters. At the center they will find a welcoming atmosphere where they can relax and hang out. The facility offers shelter from inclement weather, clean restrooms, hot showers, a laundry, lunch and other necessities.

Beyond the temporary basic needs, there are also mental health providers, support groups, and life coaches to help the men and women get out of homelessness.




Alkermes Pharmaceutical

Alkermes Pharmaceutical is a global biopharmaceutical company with a steadfast commitment to developing innovative medicines for central nervous system (CNS) diseases with unmet needs. At the center of their drug development process is a keen focus on how new medicines can be designed to meet the real-world needs of patients, physicians and payers. They ask the important questions up front about how a new medicine can be best designed, how outcomes can be improved, and how there can be a strong economic, as well as medical, rationale for a new drug product. They believe that when drug development begins with real world and human questions like these, it leads to innovative products that can truly help patients and physicians better manage diseases.

Alkermes is working with the HCSO on the Vivitrol pilot program.



Cloud 9

The time has come to drastically improve mental healthcare for existing patients and unserved populations. Cloud 9’s solution begins by supporting the caregivers. Their mobile application platform amplifies the abilities of mental health providers and behavioral health organizations who use their innovative features to engage with their patients. Their industry is behind in adopting these efficiencies and the public needs tools that are practical, attractive, have their own distinct identity and can easily integrate with other healthcare specializations.

Cloud 9 is a partner with the HCSO on the telepsychiatry pilot program.



JSA Health

JSA's psychiatric professionals expedite assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and disposition of patients in settings where it might otherwise be difficult and time-consuming to get appropriate services. Contacting with them can cost a fraction of hiring on-site staff. You pay for services only when you need them.

Easy to setup and maintain, modern, high-definition telemedicine technologies allows their staff to effectively diagnose and treat all sorts of patients in nearly any setting. The telemedicine technology is well understood and used in corporate setting all across the world. All that is required is secure, high-speed internet access, and teleconferencing equipment that is HIPAA compliant, including equipment manufactured by Lifesize, Polycom, Cisco, and Sony. a JSA representative will link you with equipment resellers and technology support personnel that can install and maintain your telemedicine network.

Their Cornerstones for Unparalleled Telepsychiatry are:

  • Access to Psychiatrists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Prompt On Site Consultations using State of the Art Telemedicine Technology
  •  Flexible Array of Services including Emergent, Urgent and Routine Evaluations
  • Board-certified psychiatric specialists and nurse practitioners


JSA is a partner with the HCSO on the telepsychiatry pilot program.




Harris County Emergency Corps

Founded in 1927, Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) was the first Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agency in the state of Texas.  Today, HCEC is one of the premier EMS agencies in the region and the only Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services accredited agency with headquarters in Houston. HCEC provides EMS in north Houston for Harris County Emergency Services District No. 1.  It’s a service area that covers more than 400,000 people spread across 130 square miles and 12 different zip codes.

HCEC operates 12 front line ambulances and four reserve ambulances with four 24-hour shifts of medics. While responding to more than 20,000 calls a year, HCEC also serves as a regional dispatch center for 17 other fire and EMS agencies.

HCEC’s medical team also provides basic and advanced medicine training for clinicians across the U.S. and local businesses.  The agency also provides event medicine coverage for some of the largest event venues in Houston.

HCEC is a partner with the HCSO on the telepsychiatry pilot program.



Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is an American telecommunications company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications, which offers wireless products and services. With 146 million subscribers as of April 2017, Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless telecommunications provider in the United States.

Verizon Wireless is a partner with the HCSO on the telepsychiatry pilot program.