Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Opens Up About Clinical Depression and the Path to Recovery

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 8/10/2023, 10:35 a.m.
Over 21 million Americans are grappling with clinical depression, and among them is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. In an …

Over 21 million Americans are grappling with clinical depression, and among them is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. In an open letter to Harris County residents, she revealed her diagnosis and her decision to take a leave of absence for treatment. Hidalgo's message underscores the necessity of treating mental health conditions with the same importance as physical ailments. .She emphasizes that the long-standing stigma surrounding mental health has stopped individuals from seeking the essential help they need.

"Depression and other mental health illnesses are part of the human condition, and mental health illnesses should be treated just like any other health condition," expressed Hidalgo. She urged openness about mental health challenges and shared her own struggles, hoping to inspire others to prioritize their well-being and seek assistance.

Hidalgo candidly disclosed that she had silently battled her condition before an official diagnosis last month. Following medical guidance, she opted for treatment at an out-of-state facility in late July. As the senior member of the court, Commissioner Rodney Ellis will temporarily preside over Commissioners' Court, while Hidalgo's chief of staff oversees her office's operations. While not physically present, Hidalgo remains reachable for emergencies.

Hidalgo's transparency is both courageous and commend able. Upon hearing the news, elected officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, extended their support, emphasizing that seeking help is a sign of strength.

As difficult as this may be, Judge Lina Hidalgo is not alone in facing this challenge. A 2023 report showed that over 30% of adults meet the criteria for having depression and/or anxiety. Thankfully, she is in the care of doctors who recognize that this is treatable and is committed to getting better," stated Mayor Sylvester Turner, who hopes this experience will encourage others to seek help if they need it.

"I see this as a teachable moment. It’s a chance where all of us ought to Google trusted sources and learn a lot about mental health issues. Particularly coming out of a pandemic. All of us oughta do a bit more to reach out and see if we can help someone, or help ourselves to know more about mental health as well," commented Commissioner Ellis.

Judge Hidalgo is grateful for the support she has received. "I am grateful for your understanding, as well as the support of my colleagues, friends, and family. I hope to share more about my experience upon my return."

As Hidalgo confronts her challenge, she transforms it into a teachable moment. She urges everyone to educate themselves about mental health.

Judge Hidalgo, the first woman elected as County Judge and second woman elected to Commissioners' Court, has been at the helm since 2018. Managing a $4.5 billion budget for the nation's third-largest county, she remains dedicated to flood control, criminal justice reform, and enhancing government transparency.

Through her candidness, Hidalgo shines a spotlight on the importance of mental health discourse, fostering empathy, awareness, and a more supportive community.

For further information, visit cjo.harriscountytx.gov.