4 New TX Laws on Youth Mental Health Take Effect Amid Hurricane Trauma

It might not be visible in shocking videos on CNN or viral photos on Twitter, but the mental health consequences of Hurricane Harvey are profound. We know trauma – whether it’s caused by hurricanes, hunger, abuse, or something else – can deeply affect children (and adults) for years to come.

Photo © Jill Carlson (CC)

Photo © Jill Carlson (CC)

Responding to the immediate and longer-term mental health consequences of the hurricane will require numerous strategies, including an expanded emphasis on trauma-informed care in our schools, our CPS programs, juvenile justice efforts, and state policies.

In the meantime, there are multiple new Texas laws on mental health that passed the Legislature earlier this year and go into effect tomorrow, September 1, giving the state a jump on responding to the mental health consequences of the storm.

Here are four new state laws specifically on youth mental health that take effect September 1:

Mental Health Screenings in for Youth in Medicaid 

HB 1600 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson requires a mental health screening be provided during the annual medical exam of adolescents enrolled in Medicaid. The bill directs HHSC to develop rules to require at least one mental health screening for each child aged 12-18 enrolled in Medicaid as part of the child’s annual medical exams. The bill authorizes Medicaid providers to receive reimbursement for the annual screening.

Trauma-Informed Mental Health Resources in Schools

HB 4056 by Rep. Toni Rose directs TEA, DSHS, and Education Service Centers to include trauma-informed resources on the websites they maintain of evidence-based mental health practices and programs for schools.

Posting Mental Health Resources on College Websites

HB 2895 by Rep. Four Price requires public institutions of higher education to post on their websites mental health resources, regardless of whether the resources are provided by the college/university.

Mental Health First Aid for University Employees

SB 1533 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez allows university employees to receive mental health first aid training through a state funded grant program.