Now under virtual conditions, they are in the hearings but linking with an individual, attorney or family is much more challenging.
Judge Donna King of the 26th District Court interacts regularly with Pavilion peer counselors in her mental health docket as they serve clients in her courtroom. She said one challenge from the pandemic has been the inability to convene court in person, which normally allows Pavilion members in-person contacts with court participants.
King said, “The beauty of Pavilion participating in the court process is that they can spend time with clients in the court setting and build trust, which helps build the relationship that will facilitate ongoing support outside court.”
However, while existing relationships have been consistent, it’s been difficult to ignite new relationships with court participants who had not previously been active with Pavilion.
King continues to encourage participation with Pavilion and even facilitates contacts.
During the pandemic, Pavilion discovered that isolation during the first shutdown was causing depression and other problems among its members, even though they were holding Zoom meetings. After six weeks, Pavilion reopened its doors.
Pavilion, one of 400 worldwide clubhouses and 14 in the state, is the only Texas clubhouse that has managed to stay open and operate during the pandemic. It’s located at 3620 E. Whitestone in Cedar Park behind Family Emergency Room.
A member since 2017, Linda Johnson was hired to head Pavilion’s outreach program and became director of its Justice Program in 2019. Johnson is celebrating her thirtieth year of sobriety in March.
One of her many goals is to create a center near or at the Justice Center in Georgetown run by Pavilion-trained peers to help those exiting the justice center or jail and their family members to immediately access resources.
King calls prisons and jails the de facto mental health institutions in our state. More treatment options in the community would divert individuals from incarceration to treatment and wellness, keeping communities safer.
Ben Miller, member and vice chair of Pavilion’s board of directors and a peer in Judge King’s court, acknowledges that it’s more difficult to assist homeless people. He said that people with mental illness in this county need help with housing and transportation, calling those two issues a constant struggle.
Frances Musgrove, a Pavilion member since 2020 who will be heading legislative advocacy, envisions Pavilion to be “a great big place that is open 24/7 providing all the needs for someone to be comfortable and be able to stay a night or two until we can transition them into more permanent housing.”
It’s critical for state officials to recognize the relationship of untreated mental illness to criminal justice involvement when they consider funding for mental health services and facilities in Texas.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services is requesting $711,000,000 for mental health recovery services, which mentions clubhouses, from the 87th Legislature.
Butler is asking that clubhouses in Texas, that save the state significant resources, are funded at no less than $10M, which is barely one percent of the Health and Human Services’ biennial budget request for mental health services.
Do you, or someone you know, need assistance from Pavilion or wish to donate? Please call Gordon Butler at 512-417-2767 or email him at [email protected].