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State report outlines mental health needs in Texas

Haley Bull|January 6th 2017

Southeast Texas — Lawmakers called mental health one of the most critical areas of concerns facing Texans in a new report released by the House Select Committee on Mental Health Thursday, following a series of eight hearings.

The issue is one likely affecting someone Southeast Texans know.

“The fact is that one in five people in Southeast Texas and everywhere else will experience a mental health disorder sometime in their lifetime,” Sally Broussard said.

She’s the administrative director for the Baptist Behavioral Health Center, with decades experience in the field. She said each day, they admit about seven to eight people.

“It encompasses every age group, every socioeconomic class, it really knows no bounds,” Broussard said.

The issue the center deals with daily, the report is shining a light on.

“Well we’ve got a lot of work to do. That’s pretty much what the report says,” Rep. James White (Dist. 19) said.

White serves on the House Select Committee on Mental Health.

“Hospitals, especially emergency room visits due to people having mental health crisis’ obviously in our criminal justice system where it’s have a very disproportionate impact on our county property tax payer and then in our educational system with our schools,” he said.

The report recommends in part the legislature consider early intervention efforts, jail diversion programs, education incentives and said if the issues is not addressed it could have a detrimental impact on Texas. White called it a blue print for the next 5-8 years.

“It’s probably not anything that we would all do in one session but we would do over a course of time to set us up for the next generation,” White said.

The community in Southeast Texas, Broussard said is already working together to improve mental healthcare.

“It’s not just a police officer problem, it’s not just a hospital problem, it’s not just a community MHMR mental health center problem, it’s a community problem,” she said.

To read the full report click here.