Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo takes leave to treat clinical depression
The Colombian-born County Judge said in a statement Monday she was diagnosed with the condition last month. Hiraldo said she looks to return in September.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Latina leader and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, announced Monday that she was taking a temporary leave of absence for treatment of clinical depression in a statement to the county’s roughly 5 million residents.
“My experience has been difficult, but I am taking it as an opportunity to be open about my own struggle, my own challenges, and to encourage others, who need help, to seek treatment,” Hidalgo wrote.
The Colombian-born judge said she checked herself into a facility outside Texas in late July for inpatient treatment and said she’d been dealing with depression “for some time” and that it had gone undiagnosed until checking into the facility.
Hidalgo said she’s eyeing a return by early September, but emphasized that it's important for her "personally and professionally to confront this issue swiftly." Her doctors advised her to focus on her health for the next several weeks, according to a news release.
“My experience has been difficult, but I am taking it as an opportunity to be open about my own struggle, my own challenges, and to encourage others, who need help, to seek treatment,” said Hiraldo. “All of us know someone - a friend, a coworker, or a family member - who suffers from depression.”
“I encourage every person that is struggling with mental health challenges to look for support in your community, your loved ones, and your doctor,” she added.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, her family left Colombia when she was five years old, and lived in Peru and Mexico City before ultimately settling in Houston, Texas as a teenager.
At 27 years old, her national profile grew exponentially when the never previously elected official pulled off a stunning win in 2018 to win the top job in one of the nation’s largest counties where she was the lone progressive taking over an area previously controlled by Republicans over 10 years ago.
Hidalgo is the first woman and the first Latina to be elected as county judge of Harris County, the third-most populous county in the nation. She functions as the county's chief executive and its emergency manager and oversees a budget of over $4 billion.
The title of “county judge” in Texas differs from the traditional meaning as they are not judges in courtrooms but instead are presiding officials in their counties who have big influence in spending and are in charge of local emergency response.
During her temporary time away, Hidalgo will still have communication with key county staff with Commissioner Rodney Ellis overseeing official proceedings, as well as Commissioners Court.
"Additionally, the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HCOHSEM) has been notified and is fully engaged and prepared to respond to any potential incident or disaster during this time," Hidalgo said in part of a news release.