Texas Senate approves priority mental health bill
The Texas Senate on Tuesday gave unanimous approval to a bill designed to identify children with mental health needs and direct them to treatment before they can harm themselves and others.
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said her bill was inspired by the Santa Fe school shooting as part of a comprehensive response to improving safety for young people.
Addressing mental health “is a real important part of making schools safe,” Nelson said. “And look at the numbers on suicide. It’s horrifying to me.”
Senate Bill 10, which next goes to the House, would create the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to provide access to psychiatric professionals associated with the state’s medical schools to better diagnose a child’s needs.
The bill, which would cost about $50 million a year, also would create regional mental health hubs composed of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
Gov. Greg Abbott made Nelson’s bill a priority item for the Legislature to tackle this session.
The bill also would create a Child Psychiatry Access Network that would let pediatricians and physicians consult with mental health experts on treatment options — an important response, Nelson said, because health care providers are frequently the first to detect mental health issues, but many aren’t comfortable providing that type of care.
SB 10 also would promote mental health research and give judges information on mental health resources.
Mar 5, 2019
By Chuck Lindell