Mayors in Texas Calls For Increased Funding on Mental Health Services
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other mayors in Texas are requesting over $155 million in budget surplus funds to be sent to 39 Local Mental and Behavioral Health Authorities over the next two fiscal years according to Houston Public Media. These community mental health centers provide emergency, outpatient, and rehab services to low-income and uninsured patients across Texas. The mayors have sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, which is holding a public hearing to discuss the health section of the appropriations bill. The request comes at a time when community mental health centers are facing staffing shortages due to the pandemic, leading to reduced capacity or discontinuation of services at nearly half of the centers. The requested funds would go towards salary increases for mental health workers.
The mayor’s letter highlights the impact of the lack of mental health care access on the police, as they become the primary safety net mental health provider for many Texans. The mayors urge lawmakers to address the current workforce shortage and increase funding for community mental health centers, emphasizing that investing in mental healthcare is crucial for public safety. Although SB 1 increased spending in certain mental health-related programs, such as the 988 crisis hotline and loan repayment for future mental health professionals, the mayors believe that addressing the staffing shortage at community mental health centers should be prioritized.
Investing in Mental Healthcare
According to research by the Frontiers, investing in mental healthcare is crucial for public safety and well-being. The request made by the mayors in Texas for increased mental health funding is a crucial step towards improving access to mental health services for low-income and uninsured patients. It will also ease the burden on police departments as mental health providers. Lawmakers must prioritize funding for mental healthcare to ensure that all Texans have access to necessary mental health services.