Behavioral health services in Texas—which encompass both mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs)—have evolved and transformed over the past decade. Much of this transformation is due to the large investment and stewardship of the Texas Governor and legislators to improve the behavioral health service delivery system. The Medicaid 1115 Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Waiver (“the 1115 Transformation Waiver”), the movement toward managed care, the increased treatment alternatives to incarceration, the improved psychiatric crisis system, as well as enhanced local community collaboration and leveraged funding efforts, have all contributed to significant advancements in behavioral health care in Texas.
Texas has come to recognize the unique needs of individuals with complex behavioral health issues. These individuals experience a range of other risk factors, including unemployment, homelessness, and co-occurring health issues. Texas also appreciates the need for specialized services for individuals with intellectual disabilities, new mothers with depression, and militarytrauma affected veterans and their families.
Technological innovations such as telehealth and telemedicine allow people to have greater access to the care they need without having to drive hours to receive it. Agencies now have increased access to behavioral health data to inform decision making. Advanced web-based resources such as 2-1-1, MentalHealthTX.org, and the Texas Veterans Phone App connect Texans to behavioral health services and live supports. Texas state agencies have continued to move toward research-based assessment tools and services that enable us do a better job defining and coordinating services.
In spite of these advancements, the behavioral health system continues to experience challenges addressing the behavioral health needs of Texans. Texas currently invests $6.7 billion biennially at the state level through General Revenue, Medicaid, and local and federal dollars to fund behavioral health services provided by various state agencies. In an effort to improve coordination between state agencies and to create a strategic approach to providing behavioral health services, lawmakers directed the creation of a statewide mental health coordinator position to through the 2014-15 General Appropriations Act, S.B. 1, 83rd Legislature, Regular Session, 2013 (Article II, Health and Human Services Commission, Rider 82). Texas lawmakers took another step through the 2016-17 General Appropriations Act, H.B. 1, 84th Legislature, Regular Session, 2015 (Article IX, Section 10.04) by directing 18 state agencies that receive General Revenue behavioral health funding to work collectively to develop this collaborative five-year behavioral health strategic plan and coordinated expenditures proposal. This strategic plan is the result of several months of collaboration involving these agencies that represent the diverse landscape of behavioral health services in Texas. The plan focuses on five strategic goals to be addressed later in this strategic plan.
Read the whole Strategic Plan HERE.
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