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Newsletter: Improving Mental Health Care

As we near the end of May, which is recognized nationally as Mental Health Month, I'd like to briefly update you on the work that my Texas House colleagues and I are doing on this very important issue.

Last fall, I created the House Committee on Mental Health. Behavioral health issues affect just about every aspect of state government, from education to health care to criminal justice. But for too long, policymakers have often addressed these various concerns in isolation. I created the Committee on Mental Health to help the House take a comprehensive look at the issue and recommend how we can most effectively and efficiently improve our approach to mental health and substance abuse. This effort was inspired in part by Bexar County's successful efforts to reform how mental health is addressed at the local level.

The Committee on Mental Health has already held a number of hearings, listening to Texans who are directly affected by this issue. They have heard from a number of experts who see inefficiencies in our current system and have suggested reforms. The Committee will continue researching for the rest of this year and make recommendations to the full House before the next legislative session begins in January. It is my goal to make improving our mental health system a priority when the Legislature meets again.

During last year's session, the Legislature increased funding for behavioral health and substance abuse services by $244 million. Those resources are important. But it's also important that we have the right approach to put those resources to their most effective use.

If you have thoughts about how the state can better address behavioral health, or if you want to share your thoughts about any other issue facing the Legislature, please don't hesitate to contact me at