Mental Health

Mental Health icon. Simplified figure with a medical cross on its head.Our Position

Increase access to school mental health servicesYouth with intellectual/ developmental disabilities (IDD) are 3 times more likely to experience trauma and abuse than their peers without disabilities. Untreated trauma can place children at increased risk for further developmental delay. The legislature should improve opportunities for success for these students by strengthening school-based mental health supports and practices to foster a safe school climate and by ensuring that school safety policies do not target students with disabilities and/ or mental health issues.

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The Latest

March 19, 2019: Article: Texas lawmakers are prioritizing mental health for school safety. But advocates worry about stigma. Texas Tribune

March 6, 2019: Article: Santa Fe official testifies in somber committee hearing on school safety bills Texas Tribune

Partners

Background

Unaddressed mental health conditions can impede students' academic success and compound existing developmental delays. Students with disabilities and/ or mental health challenges are often unidentified and do not have adequate access to or receive treatment. School mental health personnel shortages, inappropriate discipline practices, and an uncoordinated effort between schools and mental health systems all contribute to the lack of identification and treatment for students.

The trauma of Hurricane Harvey provided impetus for the Legislature to address school mental health. Following recent school violence tragedies in both Florida and Texas, Governor Abbott convened a series of roundtable discussions and released a School Safety Action Plan. Subsequently, Senate and House committees held hearings and released interim reports on school safety. The theme of each directive and report highlights the need for increasing mental health supports and strengthening school climate tools in Texas' schools.

The legislature should direct the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to address student mental health needs by providing multi-tiered systems of support that help schools promote positive behaviors and interventions. The recommendations below align with priorities put forth by the Senate Select Committee on School Safety, the House Committee on Public Education, and the TEA's Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative.

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Further Reading

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