Tropical Texas Behavioral Health hosted the 24th Annual South Texas Family Support Conference (STFSC) at Schlitterbahn Beach Resort in South Padre Island on May 30 through June 1. The event was developed to bring together Mental Health and Developmental Disability Authorities, consumers and families of south Texas communities. It is the only bilingual conference available in South Texas specifically designed for behavioral health consumers and their family members. The conference increases community awareness and understanding of mental illness and developmental disability issues, develops effective resources, and celebrates accomplishments of the individuals who advocate for them.

The conference location rotates annually to afford easy access to as many participants as possible. As this year’s host, Tropical Texas Behavioral Health had the honor of selecting the recipient of the STFSC’s prestigious “La Luna” award. This special award, named after Dr. David Luna, one of the founders of the STFSC, was created to capture the contributions made by an individual toward promoting mental health and developmental disability services in the South Texas area. Symbolic of the light “La Luna” (the moon) reflects from the Sun, the recipient of this award shines light on specific multicultural issues that directly impact our community.

This year the STFSC “La Luna” Award was presented to Hidalgo County’s District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, one of Tropical’s strongest supporters and a huge advocate for behavioral health treatment. Tropical Texas Behavioral Health’s CEO Terry Crocker, commented “District Attorney Rodriguez is the definition of a ‘game changer’ for people with mental health issues who become involved with the criminal justice system, and he continues to blaze the trail for improvement of mental health policy in our judicial system in South Texas.”

While presiding over the 92nd District Court of Texas in 2006, he was appointed by the Board of Judges to oversee the Auxiliary Drug Court in Hidalgo County, and was also appointed by the Board of Judges to administer the Hidalgo County Drug Court Diversion Program, giving many first-time drug offenders a second chance. Shortly after being elected Hidalgo County District Attorney in January of 2015, he created the Special Crimes Division and the Crime Victims Unit, to help victims navigate the judicial process. He has been recognized on a national level for being appointed to the National Organization for Victims Assistance Board of Directors.

The District Attorney’s office, in collaboration with the State of Texas and Hidalgo County oversee several specialty courts that provide court-supervised probation and mandated behavioral health treatment, including the Misdemeanor DWI Court, Mental Health Court, Family Violence Court, Veteran's Court, and the Misdemeanor Drug Court. DA Rodriguez was the first partner and supporter of the “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” program, a national $5 million grant that Tropical Texas Behavioral Health wrote and secured in December 2016. These specialty courts and rehabilitation programs allow individuals who need mental health or substance abuse treatment an opportunity to resolve their legal issues by agreeing to adhere to treatment, therefore linking the individual with the support and skills they need to be successful.

Rodriguez said he was honored and humbled to have been awarded the 2018 STFSC “La Luna” Award. “The work we’re doing is making an impact because of the support and collaboration of others,” Rodriguez said. “Among them are judges, several county departments, and community agencies and organizations such as Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.”

Tropical Texas Behavioral Health thanks DA Rodriguez for his continued support of our mission “to improve the lives of people with behavioral health needs through the efficient and effective provision of quality services delivered with respect, dignity, cultural sensitivity and a focus on recovery.”

For more information about Tropical Texas Behavioral Health, please visit www.ttbh.org. For more information about the South Texas Family Support Conference, please visit www.stfsc.org.