Policy UpdatesTexas Senate Finance Committee

Texas Senate Finance Committee

SUMMARY – During the 85th Legislative Interim, in March 2018, the Texas Senate Finance Committee 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 began his presentation with a projection of mental health needs post-Harvey

  • We expected rates to begin to increase 60 – 90 days out (and they have). Needs are building, now.
  • For children and adolescents: We expect needs to peak at 18 months, then slowly reduce after 24 months.
  • For adults: We expect needs to continue to trend higher even after 24 months.
  • New cases will continue to emerge four years post-disaster.

To conclude, Dr. Keller provided recommendations to more fully support mental health needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

Focus on:

  • 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 (federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are key).

New needs will require ramped-up capacity using:

  • Philanthropy to meet immediate needs;
  • Maximized federal funding, as available; and
  • State funding to sustain and meet other prioritized needs.