Mental Health

Bill Aims to Attract Mental Health Professionals
It's no surprise Texas is lacking in mental health professionals. A statewide survey sheds light on just how dire the situation is: 185 of Texas' 254 counties are without a psychiatrist. Overall, the state is home to just 4.1 psychiatrists per 1,000 patients, only slightly better than Nevada, Mississippi, and Idaho, nationally. Legislative efforts are in the works to try to attract more psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to underserved Texas communities. (Action, May, 15, 2015 (Updated May 18, 2015))

 TMA Testimony: Bill Could Protect Mental Health Patients, Others
Senate Bill 359 applies only to a small group of patients: individuals who have sought services at a hospital or freestanding emergency medical center voluntarily then want to leave, but the physician at the hospital believes these patients are a danger to self or others. It does not apply to any patient who is brought in on an emergency detention initiated by a peace officer or is under an order of protective custody issued by a court. (March 26, 2015)

TMA Testimony: Improve Funding for Mental Health Services
Investing in mental health services ultimately pays for itself through reduced incarceration and emergency department costs. Additionally, of the DSHS figures demonstrating the billions of dollars our state spends on potentially preventable hospitalizations, more than a third have comorbidities in mental health conditions. (Feb. 19, 2015)

Advancing Care, Treatment for Patients With Mental Illness
In 1861, the Texas State Lunatic Asylum admitted its first patients. With funding granted in 1856 and construction starting in 1857, the institution featured state-of-the-art design and construction. Physicians and state leaders recognized the need to humanely treat those with mental illness. I'm proud to say the institution and the original building now stand as the Austin State Hospital. I was the clinical director there from 1995 to 2005. (Texas Medicine Symposium on Mental Health, February 2015)

Identification and Management of Suicide Risk in U.S. Military Veterans
Suicide is a devastating outcome of major public health importance. In the United States, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death across all ages and the seventh leading cause of death in males.1 Suicide rates vary considerably across population subgroups. U.S. military veterans may have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population.2 Veterans represent around 10 percent of U.S. adults but account for 20 percent of completed suicides, and approximately 18 to 22 veterans die from suicide each day.1,2 In addition, a considerable body of research suggests an increased risk for suicide among veterans seeking services from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). (Texas Medicine Symposium on Mental Health, February 2015)

Texas' Child Mental Health System a Mess
It's a mess. That's the best description of children's mental health in Texas, at least in the eyes of pediatricians.

Mental illness in children affects all racial, socioeconomic, and cultural demographics. Mental illness affects all facets of a child's life — at home, at school, and among peers. Many children with mental illness have problems such as an underlying genetic condition or developmental disabilities. Some may have been exposed in utero to substances or come from impoverished or abusive social situations. 

Calls from the school and arguments between caregivers about discipline stress the families. When the families of these children seek care, they hit barriers. They can't find the needed professionals to treat their children. They don't know what to do in a crisis. They have to go to multiple places in their efforts to obtain the necessary resources and treatment for their children with mental illnesses. At the same time, the families need to work and care for their other children. (Texas Medicine Symposium on Mental Health, February 2015)

Child Mental Health Guide Available
Physicians who provide mental health care to children and adolescents have an updated, valuable resource at their fingertips. The 2013 version of Psychotropic Medication Utilization Parameters for Children and Youth in Foster Care is available on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) website. (Action, Dec. 17, 2013)

Protecting Patients, Society: State Mental Health Hold Law "Antiquated" (Texas Medicine, November 2013)
When Temple emergency physician Robert Daniel Greenberg, MD, encounters suicidal or homicidal patients, he doesn't have the legal authority to temporarily hold them. For example, if the parents of an unresponsive 19-year-old patient fear he'll commit suicide once he wakes up, Dr. Greenberg says he's powerless to temporarily detain him. He has to wait for a judge to issue an emergency detention order. (Texas Medicine, November 2013) 

Saving Minds, Saving Money: Mental Health Funding (PDF)
The proposed House and Senate budgets for 82nd Legislature reverse four years of mental health care investment. The proposed budgets call for significant cuts to mental health care throughout the budget and across several state agencies. (Feb. 17, 2011)

AG Supports Outpatient Mental Illness Coverage
State law requires group health benefit plans to cover, based on medical necessity, at least 60 visits per year for outpatient treatment of serious mental illness, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled in an opinion issued in late October. (Action, Nov. 3, 2008)

2007 Legislative Compendium: Mental Health 
In recent years, a growing number of business leaders, law enforcement officials, and civic groups have joined with medicine and mental health advocates to push for better coverage of and funding for mental health services. (Oct. 23, 2007)

2005 Legislative Compendium: Mental Health   
The mental health section of the compendium describes major issues that TMA tracked and the accomplishments - or close calls - of  each of the following: Mental Health Services for Women with Postpartum Depression; Discharge of a Minor from a Mental Health Facility; Mental Health Court; Patient Refusal of Psychoactive Medication; Support for Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant; and Mental Health Near Miss.


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