On May 29th, the Texas Legislature adjourned sine die following 140 days of policymaking. The NAMI Texas public policy team spent most of the day at the Texas State Capitol, visiting with and thanking legislators and their staff. We’ll be seeing them again soon – Governor Abbott has called the Legislature back for a special session beginning July 18th. While several items of interest are set to be addressed in the special session and many other mental health policy issue areas are in need of attention leading into and during the 2019 legislative session, mental health advocates should take a moment to reflect on and be grateful for the Legislature’s recent work on mental health.
*Please note: At the time that we are writing this – June 9th – most of the initiatives listed below have not been signed by the Governor. He has until Sunday, June 18th to make his decisions on bills.
For the third consecutive session, the Legislature increased funding for mental health services. On the outpatient side, this investment includes (but is not limited to) $62.6 million in new funds to increase access to community mental health services, $30 million for a matching grant program for community mental health programs, $25 million for Healthy Community Collaborative homeless service programs (including $10 million for rural areas), $3.4 million for peer services, over $1.5 million for Clubhouses, and several targeted initiatives related to mental illness in the foster care system. As for inpatient services, the Legislature funded items such as $300 million for the new construction of state hospitals, $160 million for deferred maintenance at state hospitals and state supported living centers, $24.8 million to maintain state hospital service levels, $20.7 million to purchase additional community psychiatric hospital beds, and $10.3 million to increase maximum security bed capacity. Also of particular interest in the budget is $37.5 million in matching grant funds for jail diversion, nearly $1 million to extend the availability of medications post-release from prison, judicial mental health education program funding, $1 million to continue the forensic peer support program, veterans mental health funding, a new managed care program for people with serious mental illness, and funding to staff a new behavioral health access to care ombudsman program.
Many bills of interest passed: mental health parity (HB 10), the Sandra Bland Act (SB 1849), medication access reform (SB 860), mental health first aid training for university employees (SB 1533), special education reforms (including SB 160), Medicaid after jail (HB 337), peer services (HB 1486), mental health screening for children (HB 1600), law enforcement mental health bills (including HB 2619), postpartum depression screening (HB 2466), expedited licensing for out-of-state psychiatrics (SB 674), kinship care and foster care bills (including SB 879), mental health and criminal justice (including SB 1326), and cyberbullying (SB 179). Please note: the list above is not exhaustive. It is simply intended to provide a flavor of the mental health reforms passed in the 85th session of the Texas Legislature.
Asian-Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than whites.
According to Dr. Kevin Nadal, president of the Asian American Psychological Association and professor at John Jay College in New York, many Asian-American families hold a “notion of shame and stigma” around mental illness and that “bringing shame to one’s family can be especially detrimental to a person’s mental health.”
Click here to watch CBS News video…
Congratulations to our graduates making history as the first NAMI Chinese Family-to-Family class in Texas!
NAMI Fort Bend
Our sister chapter from NAMI Alameda County, CA sent their congrats!
Please encourage your family members to come to the Fort Bend Clubhouse each Tuesday & Wednesday 10am-2pm. Lunch and snacks are always served. The work of the clubhouse is completed by all. Everyone’s participation is valued and needed.