TEXAS — Mental Health America shows that Texas is last for access to children’s mental health services, and ranks 33rd for adult care. 98 percent of the 254 counties in Texas are wholly or partially designated as 'mental health professional shortage areas.'
"There is a mental health crisis — but nobody is doing anything about it," said one Uvalde citizen.
Some Texans are waiting months to even half a year for an appointment, and some therapists have become so overwhelmed that they've stopped accepting new clients.
Texas can’t use over 700 of its 2,911 funded state psychiatric hospital beds, and officials with Texas Health and Human Services say there is a labor shortage.
Just before the pandemic begun in 2019, there were 7,409 full-time employees. But at the end of 2022, that number became 5,987 full-time employees.
As families demand change in Texas — the rural areas have been hit the hardest.
"Approximately 8.6 million nonmetropolitan adults reported having any mental illness (AMI) in 2021," according to the Rural Health Information Hub.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, only Williamson county has enough workers in the state. The pandemic caused many therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers to leave the profession.
Three state legislators have filed bills that would keep some Texans with mental health issues from being able to purchase a gun legally. The law would also expand who has been added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The bills were filed after an 18-year-old with mental health issues lied on his application to purchase guns that were used in the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“We must provide mental health services to students who need it,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in his inaugural address last month.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan is asking for a $100 million school safety and mental health package — almost half of that would go to children’s mental health services.