This afternoon Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced she has been taking a leave of absence from her position to seek treatment for depression. The Houston Chronicle broke the news about Hidalgo, who has been at an inpatient facility since July.
Throughout her treatment, Hidalgo continues to have communication with her staff. Rodney Ellis, who is the Precinct 1 Commissioner for Harris County, has been overseeing meetings in lieu of Hidalgo’s absence.
Today Hidalgo’s office released a letter to her constituents in Harris County, outlining her treatment for depression, which she said was undiagnosed until last month. Hidalgo hopes to return to her elected position next month.
In her letter, Hidalgo stressed the importance of mental health services. “I feel so strongly that we should be open and forthright about mental health issues, which historically have been tarred with stigma that have prevented people from seeking the treatment they need,” she wrote.
Hidalgo also noted that over 21 million Americans are currently suffering from clinical depression. For many years, seeking treatment for mental health has been frowned upon in America, but there are signs that is changing.
Hidalgo is not the first public official to recently announce they were receiving mental health services. Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke last year, announced he was taking a leave of absence to treat his depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a significant role in the mental health for Americans. According to Pew Research, 41 percent of Americans reported high levels of psychological distress since 2020. And for adults 18-29, that number jumped to 58 percent.
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).