House Report Puts Spotlight on Mental Health Reforms
The Texas House on Thursday released a report from the Select Committee on Mental Health. The report followed months of extensive hearings and examination into the state’s approach to behavioral health issues.
Speaker Joe Straus formed the Select Committee in November 2015 in order to take a comprehensive look at the behavioral health system for adults and children in Texas. He appointed Representative Four Price of Amarillo as Chairman of the Select Committee. Speaker Straus named members from a variety of House committees -- such as Appropriations, Public Health, Corrections, Insurance and County Affairs – to serve on the Select Committee as well.
The opportunity to improve our mental health system this year is real and it’s important,” Speaker Straus said. “A smarter approach to mental health will improve treatment and care while saving taxpayers money. This report will give the House valuable guidance, and I want to thank Chairman Price and the entire Committee for their outstanding work.”
The report can be found here. It recommends that the next Legislature consider a number of initiatives and ideas, including:
Early intervention and prevention measures for school-aged children in order to prevent more severe mental health issues;
Strengthening and expanding jail diversion programs;
Using education incentives to address mental health workforce shortages;
Encouraging approaches to health care that integrate both physical and mental care.
“I commend Speaker Straus for his visionary leadership in forming one committee to holistically study mental health in Texas,” Chairman Price said. “Through eight days of hearings, on-site visits to facilities, and interactions with many concerned Texans, the Mental Health Committee thoroughly examined the current state of mental health in Texas, on a state, regional and local level, and identified gaps which exist in various services. The Committee’s report outlines numerous recommendations for improving the delivery of mental health services throughout all of Texas.”
The Select Committee held eight hearings, focusing on topics such as adults’ and children’s behavioral health, access to care, insurance parity and substance abuse. The Committee found that collaboration among stakeholders such as law enforcement, health providers and judges is critical to improving behavioral health outcomes.
It is estimated that one in five people experiences a mental health condition and half of all chronic mental health conditions begin by age 14. These conditions affect millions of Texans and their families.