News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health/Science/Tech
00000174-20f3-d47e-a1f7-72f75e560000KERA News' initiative to cover mental health is called "On Our Minds." Reporter Syeda Hasan is leading the effort.The station began focusing on the issue in 2013. Shortly after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, KERA launched a project called Erasing the Stigma with The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas mayor’s office. It was the beginning of a years-long focus on mental health, which continues today.The latest On Our Minds series is focused on the people who care for folks with mental health issues. It's called The Caregivers.KERA's mental health coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and the Hersh Foundation.

Gov. Abbott Names Mental Health Issues As Emergency Items For The Texas Legislature

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, listens as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, listens as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott made mental health care one of the primary themes of his State of the State address Tuesday, including more student mental health screenings.

The screenings would be part of his school safety plan, which was formed in response to last year's Santa Fe High School shooting. He says programs like these have helped to remove potentially dangerous students from some Texas schools.

“School districts across the entire state deserve access to these very same services,” Abbott says.

Abbott also cited as an emergency item a bill filed by Flower Mound Republican Jane Nelson, which would create a statewide mental health care consortium. The group would be tasked with expanding services throughout the state and improving access to care.

“Mental health issues are not just confined to our schools,” Abbott says. “They touch our entire society.”

The governor also called for fully funding mental health programs for veterans. In their response to Abbott's speech, Democratic lawmakers signaled their support for increased mental health funding.

“We salute the governor’s comments on mental health and agree, we absolutely must do more on mental health care,” said Rep. Chris Turner, a democrat from Arlington, “but it was disappointing the governor did not address the fact that Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured and the highest number of uninsured of any state in the country.”

A 2018 analysis from the Center for Public Policy Priorities found the uninsured rate in Texas is growing, attributing the trend in part to Texas opting out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Greg Hansch, public policy director with the Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says he was pleased to see mental health legislation highlighted in the governor’s address, but he says it was a missed opportunity to talk about the staggering number of uninsured Texans.

“Access to insurance can be a really critical touchpoint for people with mental illness,” Hansch said. “We would strongly encourage Texas to close the coverage gap and expand Medicaid in this legislative session.”