Opportunities to Improve Children’s Mental Health in Texas

Testimony to the House Select Committee on Mental Health

Texans Care for Children is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue children's policy organization. We drive policy change to improve the lives of Texas children today for a stronger Texas tomorrow. We envision a Texas in which all children grow up to be healthy, safe, successful, and on a path to fulfill their promise. We appreciate all the work that the committee has done to bring attention and discussion to the far reaching effects mental illness has on Texas children, families, adults, and communities and ways Texas can improve the outcomes of those who experience mental illness and the systems that serve them.  We thank you for the opportunity to offer recommendations on ways the state can make a positive difference in supporting the mental health of children and youth.

Mental health challenges are common among Texas children and youth. The way Texas addresses those challenges has far-reaching consequences, affecting children’s ability to grow up healthy and succeed in school; the stability and health of families; and core functions of our state government, including public education, Child Protective Services, our juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems, and adult mental health services. There are effective interventions and services for children, but many children in need do not receive them. Fortunately, there are specific steps the Legislature can take, including many that are no-cost or low-cost, to:

  1. Address maternal mental health to promote children’s mental health
  2. Help schools address the “whole child” to promote student education and well-being
  3. Improve outcomes of children in foster care with mental health concerns
  4. Improve outcomes of children in the juvenile justice system with mental health concerns   
  5. Help bring best and promising practices, including those that are trauma-informed, to more programs and services through coordinated training and technical assistance
  6. Improve state and local coordination of services to children and youth with complex needs
  7. Support and empower families of children with mental illness 

Click here to read the full testimony.