AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - There’s been a $600 million increase in the Texas budget for mental health resources.
Over the last few years, the Texas Legislature has increasingly begun to take mental health as seriously as medical health state wide.
“It’s a huge issue for our state, and in the last couple of legislative cycles," said Texas State Representative Four Price. “I have spent a tremendous amount of my legislative efforts in prioritizing agendas to pass legislation to not only improve the delivery of treatment to folks in crisis, but making resources more available using tele-health and tele-medicine to do that."
In order to meet the needs of the mental health industry, a large increase in the budget had to happen.
“The legislature continues to invest in mental health," said Nelson Jarrin, VP of Government Affairs for Meadows Mental Health. “They added over 600 million dollars additional dollars last session, so there’s 8.2 billion dollars for behavioral health this upcoming budget cycle."
Plans for this funding, specifically in the Panhandle, include improving mental health programs, better training for staff members, and an increase in the mental health program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
“They also worked on curriculum and training requirements for teachers to help better detect those. They’ve also put money into our medical schools up here, that will be for the Texas Tech Health Science Center to provide services to children and adolescents," said Jarrin.
The Texas Legislature is making all behavioral health a priority, but they are specifically emphasizing mental health in children and teens.
“50 percent of mental illnesses show symptoms by age 14, so the key is to have early intervention like with any other illness, intervene as early as possible," said Jarrin. “So the legislature put a lot of funding towards schools last session, and there’s a special allotment that can be used by health services, counselors, things like that at schools."
Jarrin is also encouraging everyone to start talking about mental health disorders, most people in the state of Texas are affected by this.
“Well 75 percent of Texans have a friend of family member that’s been affected by mental health, so we need to encourage people to talk about it," said Jarrin. “Because it’s a common thing out there, and we need to intervene just like we do with any other health condition."