Press Releases

Texas HHS Receives National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Grant

AUSTIN – Texas Health and Human Services recently announced it is receiving more than $180,000 in funding toward implementing a new national three-digit dialing code, 988, for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“The new 988 number makes it easier for people in crisis or emotional distress to get immediate assistance and connect to mental health resources within their communities,” said Sonja Gaines, HHS deputy executive commissioner of Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services. “We are excited to get to work, ensuring that Texans who need support can always count on a Lifeline.”
The grant funds will be used to help Texas Lifeline call centers prepare for infrastructure needs and additional callers, purchase headsets and computers, train and educate staff, and Read More »

Local Sheriffs Appointed as Ex-officio Board Members for Burke

Burke, the Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority for the Deep East Texas region, recently announced the ex-officio appointments of Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges to its Board of Trustees. The appointments result from Senate Bill 632 of the 86th legislature, which promotes Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) cooperation with the criminal justice system by directing all LMHAs to appoint sheriffs or sheriffs’ representatives to their local governing board as ex officio non-voting members.
Burke provides mental health and intellectual and developmental disability services to individuals in 12 East Texas counties (Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler).
Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges will represent Read More »

HHSC Launches Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line

Texas Health and Human Services has launched a 24/7 statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.This new resource offers COVID-19-related mental health support for all Texans. People can call the Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919.“Through this new effort, we are connecting Texans with mental health professionals who can help provide support to those who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed,” said Sonja Gaines, Deputy Executive Commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services. “It can be helpful to talk to someone when you are facing anxiety, depression and stress, which are not uncommon to experience Read More »

Melanie Taylor Becomes CEO of Burke after Susan Rushing’s Retirement

By Grace Juarez, Reporter, Lufkin Daily News, see the original story here.

Melanie Taylor has taken the helm as CEO of Burke after Susan Rushing retired last week.

Rushing left Burke with 39 years of service to Burke, with 29 as CEO.

“It marks the end of my career at Burke, but it doesn’t end my care and commitment for the mission of Burke, the people of Burke and the people that we serve,” Rushing said. “It’s a great way to look back and see how far we’ve come, and I realize while I’m being celebrated, I didn’t do this by myself.”

Taylor enters the position Read More »

Burke’s Chair Colonel Daniel Recognized as Outstanding Volunteer

Burke CEO Susan Rushing and Burke Deputy CEO Melanie Taylor celebrate the recognition with Colonel Howard Daniel, Jr. and his wife Clara.

Last week, at the 34th Annual Texas Council Conference in Houston, Colonel Howard Daniel Jr., Chair of Burke’s Board of Trustees, was presented with the Frank M. Adams Outstanding Individual Volunteer Service Award. The award is presented annually during the Texas Council Conference and identifies individuals and organizations who exemplify excellent volunteer service in the Community Center system.

Col. Daniel is a leading example, providing specific support to frontline staff and ensuring they have the needs and tools to do Read More »

Rushing Recognized for Exemplifying the “Spirit of a Social Worker”

From left to right: Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant, SFA School of Social Work Professor and Director of MSW Program, Susan Rushing, Burke CEO, Col. Howard Daniel, Burke Chairman of the Board, and Paul Jackson, Director of Community Relations.

On March 13, at the 24th Annual Mission Possible Conference in Nacogdoches, Susan Rushing, CEO of Burke, was presented with the Spirit Award by the SFA School of Social Work. The intent of the award is to identify and honor individuals who may not be social workers, yet they embody the spirit of social work practice.  According to Dr. Emmerentie Oliphant, “The School of Social Read More »

Burke’s Mental Health Emergency Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Burke’s Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC), a ground-breaking program that has significantly improved crisis mental health services in east Texas while serving as an award-winning model for other regions throughout the state.
Burke’s MHEC was the nation’s first rural freestanding comprehensive psychiatric emergency service and the first to depend entirely on telemedicine for psychiatric care. Before the MHEC was established, people in mental health crisis often waited for extended periods in hospital emergency rooms—or sometimes in jails—as beds were sought in state or private psychiatric hospitals elsewhere in Texas, far from home and Read More »

Fifteen new Instructors certified to teach Youth Mental Health First Aid

Pictured top row from left are National Council Trainers Marina Pessrl and Eric Weaver. Newly trained instructors: Tina Engledow from Community Healthcore (CHC), Amy Moser from ESC-Region 6, Colleen Plair of Arlington ISD, Jami Poteet of ESC-Region 5, Whitney Murdock of Spindletop Center, Shannon Story of Burke, Patrica Deloney and Staci Cabbiness of CHC and Melissa Simmons of Burke; bottom row, Renee Todd of CHC, Denise Truax, Melody Sanchez and Shelby Martinez of Helen Farabee Center, and Monique Wicker and Kinnie Reina of Burke. Instructors are holding their Algee koalas, the mascot of the Mental Health First Aid program.
This Read More »

Burke could be valuable resource for East Texas districts’ school safety plans

By Donna McCollum, Journalist, see the original KTRE story here.

Lufkin, TX (KTRE)
Students’ mental and behavioral health needs are listed as a top priority in Gov. Greg Abbott’s school and firearm safety action plan.
East Texas News learned that mental health professionals could be an excellent resource for both services and guidance to school districts.
Dr. James Smith, Burke’s chief clinical officer, praised Abbott’s call for more behavioral threat assessments within schools. But he prefaces that with…”A person with mental health issues is no more likely to commit an act of violence as an individual without mental health issues,” Smith said.
Smith said people trained to do threat assessments are less likely to jump to ill-informed conclusions.
“And that’s our biggest concern that then we’re Read More »

STEP Toward Recovery: Burke Hosting Outreach Presentation

LeeAnn Dwire, 18, right, has participated in Burke’s STEP program for the past year. She is now working, recently obtained her GED and is preparing for college entrance exams.
By Nicole Bradford, Reporter, see the original story here.
Nacogdoches, TX (Daily Sentinel)
A year ago, LeeAnn Dwire might have seemed like a garden variety troubled teen.
Depressed and anxious, the teen often isolated herself. Worse, she began having hallucinations — hearing voices that were not there.
“I was in a bad place,” said Dwire, now 18 and holding down a job while preparing for the SAT. “My mom got scared for me and started Read More »