The Covid-19 pandemic created a drastic series of events that shook people. Through the social and economic unrest, people have experienced numerous mental health issues. America has witnessed multiple mental health crises, and is currently amidst one.
While the number of mental health patients, from young adults to seniors, is rising, the country is not equipped to assist its residents with prompt and affordable mental healthcare.
According to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, Texas, in particular, has ranked 50th out of 51 states in the overall accessibility index for mental healthcare facilities. The director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Texas, Greg Hansch, stated that the pandemic has affected mental health and healthcare in the state.
Research reveals that the state’s response time from the start of mental health symptoms to their treatment averages eight to ten years. This leads to a vast majority of neglected and untreated cases that can transform into severe ailments in the future.
FEP and Texans
Families in Texas are struggling to get mental health services that assist them in treating their illness while still being affordable. The first episode of psychosis, or FEP, impacts the well-being of over 3,000 young adults and children in Texas. The state’s coordinated specialty care program is equipped to treat only 20 percent of the total number of cases.
Mental healthcare facilities for prisoners in Texas
About 1,400 prisoners and jail inmates in Texas are waiting for their competency restoration through the state psychiatric hospital system. It takes 80 to 280 days to obtain maximum and non-maximum security placements.
Families of the inmates and prisoners have been trying relentlessly to get the required mental health assistance for their loved ones, but the lack of a dynamic model has not yielded any returns. The prolonged waiting for competency restoration is worsening the mental health outcomes. It also leads to an overcrowded jail and prison system, jeopardizing the safety of inmates, prisoners, and jail staff.
Medicaid and state impact
People who have a mental illness need coverage and care to manage their health conditions and set sail on a path to recovery. Medicaid is a crucial necessity and stands to be America’s largest payer for mental health conditions. It provides health coverage to one out of four adults facing a severe mental health ailment.
The state needs to expand its Medicaid program so more people with mental health conditions can benefit from the coverage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that more than 400,000 Texans suffering from mental health conditions or substance challenges could easily enroll for health insurance if state leaders expanded the Medicaid funds. Unless these funds are extended, the number of untreated cases in the state will increase.
The impact of Quarantine on families in Texas
The previous year took a significant toll on the mental health of families that were quarantined together for months. The stay-at-home phase resulted in high cases of clinical depression, suicidal behavior, and anxiety. Social isolation also challenged peoples’ abilities to reclaim their positions in the post-pandemic world.
Families face the aftereffects of unemployment, business losses, and isolation. While they struggle to cope with the rollercoaster of post-pandemic changes, they also have to try and navigate a complex and limited healthcare system. Last fall, mental health clinics and hospitals in Texas admitted the highest number of individuals who have attempted suicide.
What is the state doing to improve the condition?
Collaboration with mental healthcare facilities
Texas is constantly working towards establishing a better mental healthcare infrastructure. The state has collaborated with more than forty regional cognitive and behavioral health institutions. These institutions will deliver affordable mental health services to the state and its residents.
The Texas Psychological Association has also curated a website to help people identify local psychologists near them. This has been a remarkable step toward reducing the gap between mental health patients and healthcare information and resources. The website also facilitates Medicaid claims to help families get their mental health expenses covered under their insurance.
More investments in the sector
The state is also working toward channeling investments for improving the mental healthcare infrastructure. Along with government bodies funding mental healthcare programs, private organizations are also helping the cause. The families in Texas suffering from mental health issues are currently overwhelmed with the high cost of medical assistance. But soon, families will have more economical options available, such as the recently funded startup, Geode Health, which has already opened an Allen, Texas mental health practice.
More investments in the state’s research, development, training, and medical infrastructure will lower the costs for the individuals and their families. It will also open up avenues for more patients seeking medical intervention.
Starting from the bottom—public schools and mental health
Texas Lawmakers in 2019 recognized public schools as a crucial resource for families seeking help with mental health issues. They directed schools to train staff and teachers to address student trauma, mental health issues, and behavioral disorders to prevent harmful circumstances.
In numerous cases, student trauma has revealed issues their parents and other family members face. Parents’ with poor mental health conditions can also have a negative impact on their children. Treating the problems in their initial stages allows for a better outcome and prevents the problems from taking an extreme form. This benefits the individual, their family, the economy, and society.
Texas is addressing its mental health crisis and making dynamic decisions to overcome the barriers between patients and medical facilities. The state is focused on spreading awareness through creative programs and collaborating with schools to boost their reach. With all its efforts in motion, Texas presents a hopeful image for the rest of the nation and the individuals struggling with mental health issues.