America is currently going through a mental health crisis. Individuals from all walks of life and age groups face mental health issues. The sad part is that most of them cannot access adequate mental healthcare due to the lack of a well-established infrastructure.
While many states are home to mental health deserts, Texas is working towards changing the narrative. The state is constantly developing strategies to tackle the lack of mental healthcare. From increasing medical facilities to promoting research and public awareness, everything is being included in the rigorous efforts initiated by the state.
Texas ranks at the top of the new national report card ranking states based on their support and school policies toward children’s mental health.
Anxiety issues, ADHD, and depression have become common among children and young adults. These circumstances present the nation with a youth mental health crisis. Texas addresses the situation’s sensitivity and focuses on improving mental healthcare facilities for kids and young adults. The state is beginning at the grassroots level to diagnose and treat mental health issues in children at an early stage in hopes of preventing them from taking a more severe form.
For instance, the lack of proper awareness may make a person misunderstand depression as fatigue or laziness. When a child suffering from the initial stages of depression is not treated as per the medical protocols, the disease will become more prominent. Untreated medical illness can cause harm to an individual and is a leading cause of self-harm, suicides, crimes against society, and more physical disorders.
Children’s mental health issues might also cause them to lose their attention and prevent them from utilizing their talents and abilities. Therefore, it is essential to treat mental health issues the same way we treat a physical injury or other conventional diseases.
Texas understood the situation and started engaging with students, families, and the community to create an inclusive and educated space around mental health topics. They see schools and educational institutions as ideal spaces for inculcating knowledge and care toward mental health. These young minds will help shape the future, so we must take care of their present.
Some of the efforts taken by Texas to provide more mental healthcare facilities in the educational sector are:
Staff and teacher training for assisting students with mental health issues
There is a shortage of counselors in schools across the nation. They are either unavailable or one counselor is responsible for attending to too many students. This stress of handling excess responsibility deteriorates healthcare quality and adds to the risks of students facing severe mental issues in the absence of care.
Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, students have faced issues adjusting to the new environment. Anxiety, depression, and other problems have resulted in more suicidal ideation and substance abuse. Students aren’t the only ones affected as the pressure of dealing with too many cases in a short period also negatively impacts the counselors.
Texas has come up with a practical and fruitful solution for the issue. They are dividing mental healthcare needs into different tiers. To attend to the students at the initial level, the staff is prepared with relevant training. Similarly, some practitioners specialize in providing the same for students who need more care.
Schools in Texas are organizing training programs to train teachers and support staff. This training is intended to make them aware of children’s potential mental health issues, initial counseling, and understanding behavior. The teachers are the first point of contact for children vulnerable to mental health issues. They are trained to react, respond, and attend to the problems faced by children. This makes the entire process of getting referred to medical care assistance and professional guidance smoother.
Inviting more investments and developing more facilities.
While the pre-pandemic setups for mental healthcare were not very promising in the state, Texas is improving on its capacity. They are training and hiring more professionals. The government is investing in establishing dedicated mental healthcare clinics, resources, and facilities. They collaborate with schools and ensure mental health help is accessible to children facing mental health issues.
Texas schools are struggling, but help is on the way. Along with government investments, the private sector is also chipping in. Take, for example, the backed startup Geode Health, which has already opened an Allen, Texas location and plans to open 30+ other clinics in the state within the next 18 months. These clinics will empower the state to treat more individuals facing mental health issues. This will improve the state’s mental health index and decrease the number of untreated patients.
Spreading awareness through creative measures.
The Mental Health Association of Texas is constantly running campaigns to spread awareness about topics related to mental health. Texas Health and Human Services have also initiated numerous campaigns dedicated to the cause. The state is celebrating the month of May as the mental health awareness month.
They organize art seminars, talks, and webinars in collaboration with schools and other educational institutions. They aim to help children and the community by creating a safe space for individuals going through mental health conditions. Inspired by these campaigns, many schools are also organizing in-house events and meetings to support the cause and educate their students and staff.
Texas is also progressing in establishing a robust mental healthcare system in its education sector by taking small yet significant steps. Some of their achievements include their anti-bullying measures in educational spaces and the inclusion of mental health under K-12 instruction.
America is going through a mental health crisis that includes young adults. Texas has established an Education Agency Task Force to conduct more research and trials on mental and behavioral health situations in schools. Overall, the state is an inspiration for other parts of the nation struggling with primary mental healthcare availability.
Texas gives hope to many untreated children and young adults with its diligent efforts. It gives them hope to overcome their mental health issues with proactive mental healthcare facilities and a supportive ecosystem.