HHSC Expands Mental Health Services for Patients Facing Court
By Joey Berlin

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The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received a $1 million federal grant to help defendants in mostly rural areas who have been found incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness, HHSC announced in a release. 

The block grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration will allow HHSC to expand its outpatient competency restoration services, which aid Texans with mental health and substance use disorders, HHSC said.

Outpatient competency restoration programs were created in 2007 to help reduce the number of people waiting in jail for court-ordered treatment so they can face the charges against them in court. That treatment includes mental health and substance use treatment services in a community setting, including stabilization, medication, therapy, peer support, life skills rehabilitation, and legal education, according to HHSC.

TMA has advocated for outpatient competency services reform as a member of the Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds.

“With these grant funds, we are improving access to services for rural Texans and working to ensure people who are experiencing mental health crises have the support and legal education they need,” said Sonja Gaines, HHSC’s deputy executive commissioner for intellectual and developmental disability and behavioral health services.

HHSC will distribute the grant funds among five organizations that will provide those services around the state: Bluebonnet Trails Community Services, which serves several Central Texas counties; Center for Life Resources, which also has a Central Texas service area; LifePath Systems, serving Collin County and its surrounding areas; MHMR Services for the Concho Valley, serving parts of west central Texas; and Pecan Valley Centers, serving several counties west and southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

More information on HHSC’s outpatient competency restoration services is available on the agency’s website.

Last Updated On

July 08, 2021

Originally Published On

July 08, 2021

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

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Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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