Integrating Mental and Physical Health

TMA Written Testimony

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
House Bill 10 

Written testimony submitted on behalf of:

  • Texas Medical Association
  • Texas Pediatric Society 
  • Federation of Texas Psychiatry

May 7, 2019

The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Pediatric Society, and the Federation of Texas Psychiatry would like to offer our support of House Bill 10. We appreciate the leadership of Chairwoman Kolkhorst, Chairwoman Thompson, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to better integrate physical and mental health care across the state through the initiatives included in House Bill 10. 

Every day, Texas physicians care for patients with mental health and substance use conditions, and the data bear out how significant a challenge we face: About 50 percent of people will experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime,  and about half of those will experience first onset of their symptoms during childhood or adolescence.  Among children aged 3-17, current estimates show 7% have diagnosed anxiety problems and 3% have diagnosed depression.  Some people experience multiple disorders at the same time, and many more live with symptoms of emotional disturbance that have not received clinical attention or a diagnosis. 

The Texas Mental Health and Behavioral Health Research Institute has the potential to leverage existing capacity in our state’s medical schools to craft an innovative, Texas-specific vision for child and adolescent behavioral health needs and behavioral health research. As you are aware, Texas is home to some of the nation’s top universities with broad expertise in mental health and substance use conditions. As physicians, we know that many Texas universities and medical schools are key access points for patients to receive innovative, evidence-based treatments. The institute would create the formal infrastructure needed to disseminate essential knowledge to the broader mental health and substance use workforce. We applaud Chairwoman Thompson and Chairwoman Kolkhorst for including a child-adolescent psychiatrist on the institute’s board. Such a professional can speak directly to child and adolescent mental health and substance use conditions to ensure the institute’s work translates coherently into practice.  

HB 10 also would lay the groundwork for true collaboration among research universities, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and nonprofit mental health and substance use-focused organizations. These collaborative efforts would expand the capacity of our current workforce through stronger institutional alignment and strategic planning, including efforts impacting our youth in public schools. When all components of the state’s behavioral health system operate cohesively with a shared vision, all Texans benefit. 

Physicians strongly support a greater statewide focus on academic mental health and substance use research, and recognize the promise of new research opportunities presented through HB 10 and the institute. We are pleased to see HB 10 calls for a statewide research framework focused on preventing, identifying, and treating many serious and costly conditions, including depression, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders. We also appreciate the bill’s attention on identifying upstream determinants and risk factors for mental illness and substance use, and its specific directive to examine strategies and treatment methods targeted toward reducing maternal morbidity and mortality.

We appreciate the opportunity to comment in support of HB 10. Thank you for your consideration.  

86th Texas Legislature Letters and Testimonies

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Last Updated On

May 07, 2019