Policy UpdatesTexas House Committee on County Affairs – Early Intervention

Texas House Committee on County Affairs – Early Intervention

On March 7, 2019, MMHPI President and CEO Andy Keller, PhD, was invited testimony at the House Committee on County Affairs. During his presentation, Dr. Keller discussed “Intervening Early to Address the Mental Health Needs of Texas Children.”


of children with mental health needs who receive care are treated in a primary care setting*


Texas youth who first experience an episode of psychosis (FEP) each year*

*as of date of testimony

Dr. Keller’s testimony, which provided background information and laid out the “Ideal Mental Health System for Children” included three key components:

  1. Helping local schools identify needs and link to help:
    – Early, before situations become harder to treat; and
    – Fast, when a severe need arises and expertise is essential to maintain safety and functioning
  2. Helping pediatric primary care providers find and treat mental illness early when it’s mild to moderate; and
  3. Making intensive treatment available to children and youth with the most severe needs, quickly, when needs emerge.

As it pertained to leveraging pediatric primary care providers to provide early access to mental health care, Dr. Keller explained current barriers:

  • Limited time during each visit
  • Minimal training and a lack of confidence in knowledge of behavioral health disorders
  • Limited capacity to link cases to needed specialists and behavioral health consultation

During testimony, Dr. Keller highlighted specific legislation filed during the current legislative session, that could address specific needs or barriers.