Policy UpdatesTexas House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics

Texas House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics

SUMMARY – During the 85th Legislative Interim, in January 2018, the Texas House Committee on General Investigating & Ethics met to hear testimony. President and CEO Andy Keller, PhD, was invited testimony and presented on “Mental Health in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey”.

Dr. Keller opened his testimony highlighting the Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports, of which MMHPI was also involved. State Agencies involved included the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Health & Human Services Commission.

Key Tasks of the Task Force to Date included

  • Organizing and accessing federal aid.
  • $12 million in FEMA assistance to Education Service Centers (ESCs).
  • Assessing needs across 200 independent school districts and 1.6 million students.
  • Coordinating linkages between schools and health systems.

This infrastructure was not in place, pre-Harvey.

Dr. Keller also provided recommendations for supporting mental health needs, post-Harvey which included

  • Early identification and supports in primary care;
  • Increased access to trauma-informed care; and
  • Additional supports (e.g., housing) for those with more severe needs.
  • Ramping up capacity as soon as possible using federal funds, existing resources, and philanthropy.
  • Developing sustainability plans to better leverage primary care and pay for out-of-box solutions, such as pediatric consultation models.

Dr. Keller concluded with a highlight of the recently launched Hackett Center for Mental Health.