On Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spoke at a press conference about improving mental health care in Texas.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Support Bills for Mental Health Care in Texas
The two senate bills Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick addressed were Senate Bills 25 and 26. These bills are both authored by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.
According to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, these bills for mental health care in Texas are an increase of over $2 billion out of the state’s budget surplus. Around $3.5 billion would be invested into mental health care through these bills.
Senate Bills for Mental Health Care in Texas
Senate Bill 25
Senate Bill 25 will offer scholarship and loan repayment programs. These would let nursing students go to school with less of a financial burden.
Once the student becomes a registered nurse, and avail of the loan repayment program, they should be:
- employed part-time or full-time for at least one year at the time of application
- presently employed part-time or full-time
- a faculty member of a nursing degree program at a higher education institution
If a nurse is eligible for the loan repayment, the bill would let nurses be repaid for every year that they are a faculty member of a nursing degree program at an institution.
This is part of the program to address mental health services in Texas. The nurse will be repaid but cannot exceed five years and can receive a maximum amount of $7,000 in one year.
Senate Bill 26
Senate Bill 26 is aimed at helping State-operated hospitals and community-based organizations expand their capacity to better serve mental health needs.
The Health and Human Services Commission will provide a grant-matching program to support these communities and improve early intervention for children and families. The bill will prioritize those hospitals that work with children and families who are at a high risk of experiencing a mental health crisis to address mental health care in Texas.
According to Kolkhorst, there is a waitlist for those seeking forensic and civil beds across the state. Forensic beds are used for those in prison to decide if they are suitable for trial and other mental health needs.
The beds that will be given are placed in “strategic” areas to provide underserved areas that need more forensic beds and other child protective service needs. There is also a growing shortage of beds in some hospitals.
For those who are suffering a mental health crisis, respite beds will also be added and placed across the state. The beds would allow people in these crises to be on a 72 hold for someone to “cool down,” according to Kolkhorst, so they don’t go to jail or commit a crime during that period of time.
If both bills for mental health care in Texas pass, they will go into effect on Sept. 1.