May is Mental Health Month, a great time to raise awareness about mental illness and the importance of mental health. This is also a great time to raise awareness about how Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) protects the rights of people with mental illness and how you can get help or get involved.
In the United States, one in five adults experience mental illness, and the prevalence rates are higher for youth and young adults. When you factor in all of the people – family, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. – who may know someone with mental illness, you see just how many people may be impacted. It’s a lot.
Also, many people with disabilities experience co-occurring mental illness. For example, it is estimated that about one in every three people with an intellectual or developmental disability also has mental illness.
DRTx is known as the protection and advocacy agency (also called a “P&A”) for people with disabilities in Texas, but did you know that we are also the P&A for people with mental illness in Texas? In 1986, Congress authorized the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program. Since then, mental illness advocacy has been a focus for DRTx and it remains one of our top priorities.
DRTx works to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness in many ways, which includes:
- investigating abuse and neglect violations in various settings,
- ensuring access to supports and services so people can live in the community, and
- working to reduce discrimination in employment and housing.
We also play a key role in juvenile justice and adult correctional facilities, where people with mental illness often end up after not receiving the supports and services they need.
If a person with mental illness needs help, they can contact DRTx. In some cases, we might provide direct legal assistance, and in other cases, we might make a referral to a program or a service. Learn more about how to apply for services with DRTx.
Besides directly helping people, we also provide a number of self-advocacy resources so people with mental illness understand their rights and how to take action. The resources cover situations in inpatient mental health facilities, making an advance directive, discrimination in correctional facilities, and more.
Finally, our PAIMI Advisory Council advises DRTx on policies and priorities related to protecting and advocating for the rights of people with mental illness. The Council serves as the eyes and ears of the community regarding what’s happening for people in the mental illness space. The Council has members from across the state, including people with mental illness, family members, providers, and other professionals.
The PAIMI Advisory Council is accepting applications until July 1, 2022, for a term beginning October 1, 2022. If you are interested in making a difference for people with mental illness in Texas, learn more on our PAIMI Advisory Council page.