The mission of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Services (the “Coalition”) is to increase awareness, provide education, and create partnerships that will help to prevent and reduce the problem and effect of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug misuse and related mental and physical health disorders in the Greater Houston area. To that end, the Coalition connects and involves stakeholders from all walks of life to work together to improve local policy and practice and to increase public and private resources to the area. We do this through increasing awareness, providing education, mobilizing local communities, advocating for improved services and supports, and collaborating with others on projects that forward our mission.
Our “Partnership for a Drug-Free Spring Branch” initiative is a youth drug prevention effort aimed at the Spring Branch community of Houston. The mission is to mobilize and support the local community’s capacity to influence attitudes, policies, and practices in ways that prevent and reduce substance abuse among the youth.
Drugs Kill Campaign was founded by Earl Littman and established as a Texas nonprofit corporation in 2001. The Coalition, however, has been in existence for close to 20 years, first as a voluntary organization called the Coalition of Substance Abuse Services (CSAS) and hosted by the Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. Approximately ten years ago, CSAS merged with the Dual Disorders Council and became The Coalition of Behavioral Health Services. The Coalition has received State and Federal grants in the past, and is a former Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grantee (2000-2005).
In 2006, the Coalition began operating under the umbrella of Drugs Kill Campaign. At that time, the Coalition leadership began to focus more attention on the original Drugs Kill mission which was “to operate a drug and alcohol prevention program, aimed primarily at elementary, middle and high school children, to educate, influence and bring about community awareness of the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and inhalants.”
Our Coalition membership extends throughout the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The Partnership for a Drug-Free Spring Branch initiative is limited in coverage to the geographic area defined by the Spring Branch Independent School District, and more specifically, the area north of Interstate Highway 10.
The Network of Behavioral Health Providers (the “Network”) is a group of executive directors representing many of the largest behavioral health organizations in the Greater Houston area, including MHMRA of Harris County, Family Services of Greater Houston, DePelchin Children’s Center, Catholic Charities, Menninger Clinic, and others. The Network began in 2004 as a forum for the leadership of Greater Houston’s substance abuse and mental health service providers, both public and private, to promote the availability of state-of-the-art behavioral health services and supports for the residents of this community.
Our Coalition, in contrast, is made up of stakeholders from many sectors, and is not restricted to executives or top decision-makers within a member organization. Our membership includes clinicians (Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Social Workers, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors, Certified Prevention Specialists, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, etc.), concerned citizens, law enforcement, treatment provider staff at all levels (from interns to counselors to executive directors), educators, and a host of others. We might be considered more of a grass-roots organization that mobilizes for community change as opposed to an executive-level decision making body.
In March of 2008, the Coalition entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Houston-Harris County Office of Drug Policy (HHODP), and we have worked closely with them since that time. Our Coalition, along with many other organizations, partnered with HHODP in hosting the 2009 Houston-Harris County Regional Drug Summit: The Urgency of Now! The Summit took place in October 2008, and from the Summit a Five-Year Strategic Plan for Prevention and Reduction of Substance Abuse in Houston and Harris County was developed. This Plan was unveiled in May of 2009.
May 29, 2009 rollout of Strategic Plan, Rice University Baker Institute.
Like the Coalition, HHODP is focused on substance problems in Houston and Harris County, but unlike the Coalition, HHODP is an arm of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office and the Office of the Harris County Judge. A Joint Drug Policy Board provides oversight, advisory, and fundraising support and Board members are appointed by the City Mayor and County Judge.
As for our Drug-Free Spring Branch Initiative, there are currently close to 800 Drug-Free Communities Support Programs throughout the United States. Several are located within our Metropolitan Statistical Area (list follows), but each coalition utilizes unique strategies to prevent and reduce substance abuse based on local conditions and needs. We are familiar with each coalition and receive and provide support reciprocally.
Bay Area Council on Drugs & Alcohol, Inc. – BACODA Galveston Community Coalition – Galveston
Bay Area Council on Drugs & Alcohol, Inc-Southeast Harris Community Coalition-SE Harris County
Higher Dimension Church – Higher Dimension Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition – West side, Houston
Community Action Partners/Prevention – Community Action Partnership for Prevention – Fort Bend County
Phoenix Houses of Texas, Inc. – Roots of Change Coalition North Harris County – Montgomery County
Phoenix Houses of Texas, Inc. Underage Drinking Coalition – I-45 Corridor, Harris County
Clear Creek Independent School District-Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Families League City
The Coalition is perceived by the community of its membership as a resource and platform for discussing public policy on substance abuse laws and issues; a networking group for connecting with other professionals who care about prevention and substance abuse/mental health treatment; an educational forum for relevant topics in the prevention and treatment of, and long-term recovery from, addiction and related mental health disorders; and, as a collaborative supporter of agencies and projects that fit within the mission of the Coalition.
Members consistently comment that the Coalition keeps them informed about current trends, local events, training, funding opportunities, and media coverage related to substance abuse and mental health issues. To get a sense of the array of issues about which we strive to stay current, note our monthly meeting topics for May through December 2009 below:
May 2009 Trouble in disguise: Beverages and behaviors that promote alcohol and drug
use among youth
June 2009 Working with substance abuse among law enforcement
July 2009 Your teenager’s brain and how to communicate with it
August 2009 Coalition Vacation
September 2009 Introduction to Mental Health First Aid
October 2009 Homelessness and addiction: Lost In Woonsocket
November 2009 Mental illness and substance abuse: Giving thanks for recovery
December 2009 Faces And Voices Of Recovery (FAVOR): Recovery advocacy
January 2010 Planning for 2010 and beyond: Setting a creative strategic agenda
February 2010 Facilitating personal change: Techniques to help individuals transform their lives
March 2010 Mental health and substance abuse services: A collaborative approach
April 2010 The Role of mental health treatment in disrupting the "Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline"
Our Drug-Free Spring Branch program focuses primarily upon prevention and reduction of drug use and abuse among youth ages 11-18. We are beginning to develop relations and reputation in the Spring Branch community. Our focus on prevention in Spring Branch, along with a renewed commitment to our charter mission, has led to much excitement in our organization about spreading the message that prevention works.
In 2008, we worked with others to establish a Prevention Network to bring prevention services providers together to create a collaborative working network that will be able to do as a Network what one agency could not accomplish single-handedly. The Family Day: A day to eat dinner with your childrenTM event described in Item 8 below has involved the partnering of several of these Network providers and the results have been extremely positive. We believe this is a walk-the-walk demonstration of the Coalition’s interest in constructive partnering with community stakeholders to provide a better public service to the community.
Drugs Kill Campaign, Inc. d/b/a The Coalition of Behavioral Health Services is a Texas nonprofit corporation with 501(c)(3) status.
Our current funding sources include the following: (1) the Coalition was awarded a Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant of $125,000 per year for five years commencing October 1, 2008. Match requirements under the grant are for 100% the first year, 125% the second and third years, and 150% the fourth and fifth years; (2) the Coalition currently charges annual membership dues of $35.00. As of December 15, 2009 we have 58 members, primarily substance abuse prevention and treatment service providers and mental health service agencies; (3) the Coalition seeks grants from private foundations; and (4) the Coalition accepts private donations.
Here is a list of our on-going fundraisers and approximate amounts raised: (1) On June 10, 2009 we received notice of award of $5,000 in unrestricted mission funds from the Simmons Foundation. (2) On June 22, 2009 we received notice of award of $1,825 from the United Way of Greater Houston to fund our Family Day: A day to eat dinner with your childrenTM event that took place September 28, 2009. We received $1,000 less than we requested for the event, so we raised the additional $1,000 in private donations to make up the shortfall. Family Day is a national initiative to encourage parents to be engaged in their kids’ lives by having frequent family dinners. The promotion and hosting of this dinner will remind parents that “what your kids really want at the dinner table is you!” We have requested funding from the Spring Branch Management District to support our 2010 Family Day Dinner to be held on September 27, 2010.
We have many wonderful resources in the Houston area community, and are members of a number of outstanding community-based organizations. We are members of One Voice (a local health and human services advocacy collaborative); Harris County Healthcare Alliance; Gateway to Care (a local collaborative to facilitate access to healthcare for under- and uninsured residents); Houston-Harris County Office of Drug Policy; Phoenix House Underage Drinking Coalition; Hispanic Health Coalition; Higher Dimension Substance Abuse
Prevention Coalition; National Association for Children of Alcoholics; and, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. We serve on the Community Advisory Group for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research.
As defined by the U.S. Census, the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown MSA includes Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Chambers, Austin, and San Jacinto counties (population 5,728,143). There are four “principal” cities defined by the U.S. Census as of 2003. Population figures are within the city limits as of the 2007 U.S. Census estimates: Houston—2,208,180; Sugar Land—79,682; Baytown—70,135; and Galveston—56,940.
 Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug-Free Communities Support program http://ondcp.gov/dfc/