Texas Senate Finance Committee – MMHPI – Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Legislative UpdatesTexas Senate Finance Committee

Texas Senate Finance Committee

SUMMARY – On June 28, President and CEO Andy Keller, PhD, provided invited testimony before the Senate Finance Committee as the committee reviewed opportunities for additional mental health investments in advance of the 88th Legislative Session.

As he had during invited testimony the week before at a hearing of the Texas Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans, Andy pushed back against the media perception that Texas is at the bottom in mental health care in America in multiple ranking lists.

“Those rankings are supposed to be used to look at comparisons around particular policy decisions that states might make,” Andy told the committee. “Those reports were never designed to have the data picked out and used as they were.”

He added that the data utilized was largely collected before 2015, not accounting for the investments made to mental health services in Texas over the past several biennia.

No matter the investment, however, if Texas doesn’t develop, attract, and retain the workforce necessary to provide mental health care, it won’t be able to get the most out of those improvements.

“No one in the country has the workforce that they need,” he said. “The biggest crisis right now is that competition with Bucc-ee’s and Target and everyone else. We have people in Texas who will do this work; we just have not been nimble enough, or aggressive enough, in putting the plans together to attract them to work with these folks who we care about.”

“This is a crisis, and we really need to take the same kind of unprecedented action that we took for the pandemic [to expand the workforce].”

Before Andy’s testimony, Senator Jane Nelson took some time to speak in appreciation for everything the state has done to advance mental health care over the past six years.

“It’s important to talk about how far we’ve come,” she said. “Because we weren’t even talking just that short six years ago and look where we are right now. If we hadn’t [improved care], we would be in a whole world of hurt right now. I can’t imagine if we had been locked down for COVID and these kids hadn’t had even what we had at that point.”

She said while more needs to be done, the steps we’ve taken have positioned us to help more children more quickly than we ever could have imagined just a short time ago. Throughout her career, and particularly over the past three legislative sessions, Senator Nelson has been a champion for improving mental health in Texas. She announced her retirement last year.