NOHCJ Hosts Mental Health Awareness Panel

Mental Health

The National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice is hosting a panel discussion on mental health issues facing police and the communities they serve.

Mental Health Awareness Panel Discussion
Thu, Nov 9, 2017
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

The National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice is hosting a Mental Health Awareness Panel Discussion to raise awareness about mental health issues and how they affect criminal justice professionals and the communities they serve. The presentation will be held on Nov. 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom, with a reception planned immediately following the program in the CJ Lobby. The discussion will include professionals from various aspects of the criminal justice field. The panelists will include:

  • Officer Rebecca Skillern of the Houston Police Department Mental Health Division
  • Frank Webb, Project Manager for Harris County Sheriff’s Mental Health & Jail Diversion Bureau
  • Rita Watkins, Executive Director of the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas

Officer Skillern is a member of Houston Police Department's Mental Health Division, a program nationally recognized by the National Institute of Justice. The division partners with mental health providers for specialized training, outreach programs, and emergency health facilities to serve people in mental health crisis in the community. She also is a past president of the Texas Crisis Intervention Team Association.

Webb serves in the Mental Health & Jail Diversion Bureau, the first county office of its kind in the nation. The office serves as a liaison to the sheriff’s office Mental Health Task Force, the District Attorney’s Mental Health Unit and the Harris County Jail Diversion Program. It oversees mental health screening and reentry services at the Harris County Jail and provides policy oversight for mental health programs in corrections and law enforcement in the county.

As Executive Director of LEMIT, Dr. Watkins oversees professional development programs for all Texas Police Chiefs and Constables as well as future law enforcement leaders, which frequently includes sessions on mental health issues. She will discuss mental health issues affecting law enforcement officers, such as officer-involved shootings and high suicide rates. To aid officers who have difficulty dealing with the aftermath of traumatic or critical incidents, LEMIT launched the Post Critical Incident Seminar, a peer-based program to educate officers on trauma, patterns of resolution and field-tested strategies to promote recovery and resiliency. The program is free and open to the public.

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