Today Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) President and CEO Andy Keller issued the following statement regarding the preservation of behavioral health funding levels amidst agency budget reductions:
“Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen have wisely preserved funding for behavioral health in Texas.”
Amidst a crisis that has significant mental health implications, this action will help ensure Texans have access to care they need as they seek treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, and other needs brought on by COVID-19 and the economic stress it has caused in their lives.
“As we detailed in a recent report, the consequences of the pandemic hold the potential of leading to thousands more deaths from diseases of despair if we do not act to identify needs and provide necessary support early. Today, Texas is much more aware of the importance of behavioral health care and helping people as soon as possible, before their issues they require much more intensive, and costly, intervention and treatment, or worse, reach a tragic crisis point.”
In April, MMHPI released a report analyzing how an economic recession could increase rates of mental health and substance use disorders and result in deaths from suicide and substance overdoses. In Texas, MMHPI’s models project that – absent an increase in preparedness to detect and treat depression and addiction – every five percentage point annual increase in the unemployment rate could result in 300 additional lives lost to suicide each year and 425 additional lives lost to drug overdoses. In 2018, over 3,800 Texans died from suicide and over 7,000 died from substance-related deaths. Read the full report, Projected COVID-19 MHSUD Impacts, Volume 1: Effects of COVID-Induced Economic Recession.