Texas Governor Greg Abbott

credit: Gabe Hernandez/Caller-Times via USA TODAY NETWORK

Gov. Abbott's School Safety, Mental Health Plan Passed By State Senate

March 06, 2019 - 6:13 am

By Chris Fox, KRLD Austin Bureau Chief

AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - Governor Abbott addressed the need for a mental health plan in Texas schools as one of his emergency items and on Tuesday State Senator Jane Nelson’s bill creating the Texas Mental Health Consortium passed out of the Senate unanimously.

The Consortium would foster collaboration among health-related institutions with the goal of improving early intervention and access to mental health services, promoting and coordinating mental health research and strengthening judicial training on juvenile mental health.

The bill now goes to the Texas House of Representatives for further consideration.

"This bill leverages the expertise of our medical schools to address gaps in our mental health system, especially for at-risk youth," Senator Nelson said.  "Many young people are at risk of suicide, substance abuse or becoming a danger to themselves and others.  This bill allows us to provide early intervention and connect these individuals to treatment."

Specifically, SB 10 will:

•             Create a consortium to help coordinate state mental health initiatives across Texas' health-related institutions of higher education;

•             Establish mental health "hubs" at our health-related institutions consisting of psychiatrists, social workers, referral specialists and other mental health professionals;

•             Establish the Child Psychiatry Access Network (CPAN), which will allow pediatricians and primary care providers to consult with mental health experts on treatment options for their patients -- which is key because 75 percent of the time these providers are the first to detect mental health issues, yet many do not feel comfortable providing mental health care;

•             Establish a program allowing youth to access services through telemedicine;

•             Increase residency opportunities for psychiatry students in community settings;

•             Expand and coordinate mental health research at our health-related institutions; and

•             Direct that judges be educated about mental health resources in their community.

All services under SB 10 require written parental consent. SB 10 was designated as an emergency item by Governor Abbott in his State of the State Address. All 31 Senators are signed on as co-authors.