Testimony to Senate Finance Committee
To improve the effectiveness, coordination, and outcomes of children's mental health services, policymakers should: 1) focus on student mental health, including through on-campus services; 2) build on successful coordination efforts, such as CRCGs, the YES Waiver, and Texas System of Care; and 3) coordinate with programs across state agencies, such as truancy and child abuse prevention.
BACKGROUND: More than half of all chronic mental illnesses have their onset in childhood.
One half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; 75 percent by age 24.1 That means we can make real progress tackling mental health if we focus on youth in this age group. Years often pass between when symptoms first emerge and when the young person first gets treatment.2 Many factors contribute to this delay, including mislabeling symptoms as misbehavior or delinquency and a lack of access to effective services. A continuum of effective community based services is needed to MITIGATE risk of mental illness in children, and IDENTIFY and INTERVENE early when concerns are present. Schools have an important role to play in identifying and responding at early onset of mental illness. It’s not just about keeping kids mentally well – it also helps students be successful learners.