Working for Mental Health Reform

February 8, 2017

By Rep. Walter “Four” Price

Mental health impacts virtually every aspect of our society. Texans spend almost $3 .4 billion in state taxes each year on direct mental and behavioral services not including the billions of local dollars spent combating mental health concerns in hospitals, jails, and on our streets. As a result, Speaker Straus formed a select committee to study every aspect of mental health services in Texas.

I had the honor of chairing this committee and with 12 colleagues traveled this state to hear from everyday citizens, mental health experts, and law enforcement officials. In countless site visits, staff interviews, and more 40 hours of direct hearings, we found a patch work system where best practices are not shared among providers and may even be discouraged. In short, we found an inefficient system in need of reform.

During the 85 th Session, I will make the reform of our mental health system a priority. The expansion of the mental health delivery system will take more money, but reforms to increase the sharing of ideas and best practices will go a long way toward improving the system. Any successful reform will ensure we deliver better services earlier in the patients’ life and that we are spending Texans’ tax dollars efficiently.

Reform of our mental health system is not only the moral thing, it is the conservative thing to do. Many of the reforms our committee witnessed were locally managed and coordinated with religious organizations. My efforts will strengthen those local partnerships and ensure communities can address their unique mental health challenges.

Walter ‘Four’ Price (R-Amarillo) serves five Texas Panhandle counties in District 87. He was Chairman of the Select Committee on Mental Health during the 84th Interim.


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