Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County Commissioners proclaim May as Mental Health Awareness Month, continue local burn ban

Stephens County Commissioners proclaim May as Mental Health Awareness Month, continue local burn ban
May 26
13:01 2022

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

At Monday’s Stephens County Commissioners meeting, County Judge Michael Roach and the commissioners proclaimed May 2022 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Stephens County. They also approved a new county holiday pay policy, continued the burn ban and more.

Mental Health Awareness Month

They made the proclamation at the request of Breckenridge’s ResourceCare Community Health Center, calling on the “citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, and schools in Stephens County to recommit the community to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, the steps our citizens can take to protect their mental health, and the need for appropriate and accessible services for all people with mental health conditions.”

Justice of the Peace Steve Spoon spoke to the Commissioners Court about the mental health situations he encounters in the JP court.

“When I took office, you know, going in, if you’d have asked anybody what our major problems are in Stephens County…they would say drugs, and they would say crime. And then they would say poverty, potholes and high taxes,” Spoon said. “I think those would sum it all up, but … I wouldn’t have had mental health in my top 10. And now, being in office three-plus years, I want to change that and say mental health is the number one issue and all those other things get tied into it. Even potholes, because it absorbs a lot of our money; we can’t fix other things when we’re having to fix these these problems.”

ResourceCare Community Health Center had a table of mental health information set up at the courthouse earlier this week. The County Commissioners declared May as Mental Health Awareness Month. (Photo by Carla McKeown/ Breckenridge Texan)

Spoon said he recently attended training in Austin and one of the topics there was mental health. The experts at the training explained that, since the 1970s, the population of Texas has doubled but that the mental health issues are 400 times worse than they used to be. “So we don’t have the resources to hit this. And so we were working together to try and form a plan,” Spoon said.

Then, the JP told the group in the courtroom about a recent success story. A local resident was having a mental health crisis and was sitting on a bench in front of the courthouse in the searing heat. He wouldn’t eat or drink and wouldn’t move into the shade. Spoon said local officials had been working for weeks to get him help and had finally received clearance to admit the man to the Big Spring State Hospital.

However, before he could go to Big Spring, he needed to be in quarantine for five days. Spoon worked with Stephens Memorial Hospital to allow him to quarantine there. Aside from a minor issue when the man left the hospital briefly to buy cigarettes from a nearby convenience store, his treatment at SMH has been beneficial and he was scheduled to go to Big Spring on Tuesday.

“One of the officers who has dealt with him for several years, said ‘I’ve never seen this guy like this (this good) before.’ And he was in his right mind,” Spoon said. “He was talking, he was laughing, he pinky-sweared with the nurse that he wouldn’t get a wild hair and run away. He just needed a cigarette.”

Spoon said the SMH and ResourceCare staff members treated the man with dignity and respect, evening buying him some clothes and shoes. “It’s amazing what’s happened in five days,” Spoon said. “He’s totally changed in five days, from Tuesday night where he was hearing voices and wouldn’t go anywhere, wouldn’t eat anything to…he’s devouring stuff at the hospital, the nurses have him at the nurse’s station, and he’s just keeping them entertained with stories and they’re enjoying talking to this man. So we we have an issue with mental health. I mean, we’ve got to approach it from a different perspective.”

The JP said Stephens County needs a facility dedicated to mental health, where people who need help can be treated with love and respect. He said there is great cooperation among the local agencies but that more is needed to ensure that no one falls through the cracks.

In addition to medical and dental services, the Breckenridge ResourceCare center offers behavioral health services and counseling. ResourceCare has a selection of information sheets for anyone who needs more details on topics such as dealing with anxiety, coping with stress, prioritizing self-care, identifying trauma and more.

For more information, visit ResourceCare at 2802 W. Walker, call the health center at 254-559-7215 or visit the ResourceCare website or Facebook page (@resourcecarechc).

Burn Ban

Although there has been some rain lately, Stephens County Fire Marshal Wayne McMullen recommended that the burn ban remain in place. He said that the grass has already started to dry out and that many regional fire fighting resources have been busy fighting the large Mesquite Heat fire in Taylor County.

The commissioners took no action on the burn ban, leaving it in place.

Holiday Pay Policy

The topic of holiday pay for anyone who works for Stephens County first came up in a meeting a few weeks ago. Then, the commissioners held a special workshop earlier this month to work out the details of the policy.

According to the newly approved policy, all holiday pay will be at the employee’s regular rate per hour and will not be eligible for overtime pay. Most staff employed by Stephens County will receive eight hours of holiday pay for each holiday approved by the Commissioners Court. Road and Bridge department employees who work four 10-hour days each week will receive 10 hours of holiday pay. If a holiday falls on a Friday of a work week, when the Road and Bridge employees are usually off, they will take off on the Thursday before the holiday.

For more information, County employees may talk to their supervisors.

Other business

The commissioners also approved a road crossing on County Road 270 by BASA Resources.

After the hail storm on May 13, the roofs on the Courthouse and the Law Enforcement Center were damaged and need repair. The commissioners voted to have an engineer build a scope of work to present to the court regarding the work that needs to be done.

The commissioners also voted to allow the recent disaster declaration expire as planned. Roach explained that the purpose of the declaration was to allow several nonprofit organizations to come in to Stephens County and provide immediate assistance to local residents who needed help. That work has been done, and there is no need to continue to the disaster declaration.

Stephens County Fire Marshal Wayne McMullen recommended that the county commissioners leave the current burn ban in place. (Photo by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Justice of the Peace Steve Spoons talks to the County Commissioners about the local mental health situation. The commissioners proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month. (Photo by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan)


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