The Nueces Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities is dedicated to helping the residents of Nueces County who struggle with mental illness and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each year we serve over 11,600 people with such issues as job search, medication counseling, and benefits support.
Under the administration of President John F. Kennedy came the de-institutionalization process aimed at returning people from institutions to their communities and providing services to them in the least restrictive environment. In 1963-64 citizen planning groups were appointed to study Texas’ mental health and mental retardation needs. The information compiled from their surveys greatly influenced the passage of the Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act (H.B. 3) in 1965.
The act created the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and authorized the creation of local boards of trustees to organize and administer community MHMR centers such as Behavioral Health Center of Nueces County (BHCNC). BHCNC receives a major portion of its funding from the state’s General Revenue; however, it is not a state agency nor is it a county agency. BHCNC is a unit of local government.
BHCNC was authorized under the legal authority of Article 5547-203 of House Bill 3, enacted in 1965, as MHMR Community Center of Nueces County. In keeping with national directives to reduce the stigma associated with the term “Mental Retardation,” a Board Resolution has been adopted to change the name of the Center to “Behavioral Health Center of Nueces County.” The Corpus Christi City Council and Nueces County Commissioners’ Court entered into a contract that established the Center in 1969. BHCNC is designated by the State as the Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Authority of Nueces County. The Nueces County Commissioners’ Court appoints nine members to the Board of Trustees which govern the Center.
During the 1970’s the mental health services and the counseling program were expanded to include drug abuse services in 1971 and the first group home for individuals with intellectual disabilities was opened in 1973. The Center continued its development into the 1980’s with a focus on efficiency of operations, effectiveness of service, priority population and quality of care. The Early Childhood Intervention Program expanded and case management services began.
The Center’s Foundation, a non-profit 501c3, was incorporated in 1991 with the purpose to assist and support the Center in raising funds to further its mission.
During the 1990’s BHCNC continued on the path of expansion and improvement of services. The implementation of Continuous Quality Improvement has reinforced the importance of collecting feedback from those we serve about our services. As a result, the Center began moving in the direction of community-based services such as the creation of the Training & Support Services Unit, the expansion of Child and Adolescent Youth Services, and the focus on Person-Centered Planning. The mid-1990’s focused on individualized services and support, including supported employment, and more “normalized” living environments such as the Home and Community-based Services. The Center achieved accreditation by The Joint Commission demonstrating commitment to providing services which meet national standards.
During the mental health crisis created by Hurricane Katrina, 6,284 persons were screened and assessed. Through a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services, persons displaced from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were provided disaster support services and crisis counseling. In 2006 BHCNC partnered with the City of Corpus Christi and Nueces County and was awarded a federal grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration to provide jail diversion services to person with mental illness who interfaces with the criminal justice system. Over 124 law enforcement officers have received Crisis Intervention Team training through this initiative.
The 80th Texas Legislature appropriated new funds for Centers to enhance the services provided to people during psychiatric crisis. The Crisis Hotline now meets national accreditation standards set by the American Association of Suicidology. A Mobile Crisis Outreach Team is available to assist law enforcement in responding to persons in crises with the goal of reducing emergency room visits and arrests.
Since 2007, BHCNC has been selected as “Best of the Best” by the Caller Times Reader’s Poll. BHCNC also placed 3rd in the “Best Place to Work” event sponsored by the Corpus Christi Human Resources Management Association.
BHCNC celebrated its 40th Anniversary on October 15, 2009. Three individuals were recognized for outstanding contributions in the Mental Health field: Mary Holdsworth Butt – Pioneer Award, Brad Lomax – Spirit of Independence Award, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa – Leadership Award.
In 2013, Patty Duke shared her personal story of recovery. The following local leaders were honored for their work: Dr. Cecil Childers, State Representative Todd Hunter, The Emmord Family and the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority.