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New report gives Texas lawmakers ammunition to attack flawed mental health system

Texas lawmakers who launched the 85th legislative session on Tuesday have a newly filed 109-page report about the state’s critical mental health system to sink their teeth into and propose bills to make powerful changes. The in-depth analysis was created by the House Select Committee on Mental Health based on more than 40 hours of public hearings with 100 experts and behavioral health professionals.

“… It is clear that we have opportunities to creatively combat mental and behavioral health challenges here that can be both a catalyst for our state as well as a model for other states all across our country,” said the committee members in the report.

Mental health areas targeted for improvement

The report points out service gaps in areas of the mental health industry on which the state spends about $6.7 billion annually.

The report encourages the legislature to integrate health care programs in order to treat a patient holistically by addressing both physical and mental health concerns. It also recommends prioritizing early intervention among school-age children, expanding innovative public school-based programs, ensuring greater access to care by requiring parity, increasing the bed capacity of medical institutions, strengthening the jail diversion for non-violent offenders, expanding trauma-informed care and continuing to address mental health workforce shortages through educational incentives.

“The fact is that one in five people in Southeast Texas, and everywhere else, will experience a mental health disorder sometime in their lifetime,” said Sally Broussard, administrative director for the Baptist Behavioral Health Center. “It encompasses every age group, every socio-economic class, it really knows no bounds.”

A new movement to improve mental health services

The 13-member House Select Committee on Mental Health was formed by the House Speaker Joe Straus after recognizing that “mental health issues are impacting virtually all aspects of our society and to study the provision of mental health services in Texas.”

The report gives legislators the much-needed backing to boost changes by proposing bills during the 140-day legislative session.

“…Its scores of recommendations create a comprehensive framework that will give lawmakers confidence to take the right next steps this session,” according to a Dallas News editorial.

One of the leading behavioral treatment facilities in Texas specializing in helping people gain control over their mental health, addictions or substance abuse is Sovereign Health, which has facilities spread across the country. To learn more about its treatment programs, call the 24/7 helpline to speak to a team member.

About the author

Marie Ekberg Padilla is a senior staff writer for Sovereign Health, where she reports on breaking news in the Behavioral Health and Drug Addiction fields. With more than 15 years experience as a journalist in three countries, she enjoys focusing on medical research and scientific innovations that impact people’s lives. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com.

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