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On Our Minds is the name of KERA's mental health news initiative. The station began focusing on the issue in 2013, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Coverage is funded in part by the Donna Wilhelm Family Fund and Cigna.

North Texas Is Getting Its First State-Funded Psychiatric Hospital

A photograph of an empty, fluorescent-lit hospital hallway.
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The location of the new hospital has not been decided yet.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and UT Southwestern Medical Center are partnering to build a new state-funded psychiatric hospital in North Texas.

The Texas Legislature approved $44.7 million in funding for the new psychiatric hospital earlier this year.

Rachel Samsel with Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC)said a 2014 report showed a critical need for improved mental health services across the state.

“That report indicated that there was a need for well over 1,100 inpatient beds in Texas," Samsel said. "So there's been a significant need identified in not only inpatient services, but also services across our mental health continuum of care."

She said that need for additional care also exists in North Texas.

"The Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan area is a large area that has a growing population, and with that growing population there's a growing need for mental health services," she said.

Dr. Daniel Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern Medical Center,said building the first psychiatric facility in North Texas is a critical step to serve the mental health needs of the community.

"In seeking to address community needs, we look forward to working with the region’s stakeholders and leveraging the state’s investment in order to increase the availability of mental health care, to advance the research needed to develop the next generation of treatments, and expand the mental health workforce," Podolsky said.

The psychiatric hospital will be built in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but Samsel said an exact location hasn't been decided yet.

Tarrant County’s also been working to improve access to mental health care.

In May, county officials expressed support for opening a mental health jail diversion center. It would provide an alternative to jail for people with mental health needs who’ve been arrested for non-violent, low-level crimes.

Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at rmorr@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

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