Thursday, May 15, 2008

TX Dept. of State Health Services Awards $25 Million in Grants

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has awarded $25 million in new funding to 17 local mental health centers for community-based crisis mental health services.

A total of $21.4 million has been granted to 14 local mental health centers to establish or enhance psychiatric emergency service centers or other facilities that will divert mentally ill patients from hospitals or jails by treating them efficiently in more appropriate settings. Another $3.5 million will enable 5 mental health entities to provide outpatient treatment to people who have been found incompetent to stand trial.

According to DSHS, "The funding is part of an overall effort to increase access to crisis response services, reduce the need for hospitalizations and provide alternatives to incarceration for those in mental health crises. Crises may include situations in which people are, or believe they are, suicidal, a danger to others or having significant deterioration due to a mental condition." The $25 million is part of a $82 million two-year appropriation provided by the Texas Legislature in 2007.

Read the news release from DSHS.

Here are details on some of the projects that have received funding:

Tarrant County has received more than $4 million to pay for four new mental health crisis service programs, including one that could keep patients found incompetent to stand trial out of state hospitals. The funding will pay for programs such as restorative mental healthcare for prisoners in the Tarrant County Jail, a crisis stabilization unit, and more adult residential and respite services. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Austin Travis County Mental Health Mental Retardation Center has been awarded $4.6 million to establish a crisis stabilization unit for adults, where people experiencing suicidal, delusional or violent behaviors can be evaluated and stabilized. The grant will also pay for crisis transitional housing, where patients can receive care. (Austin American-Statesman)

El Paso Mental Health and Mental Retardation has been awarded $1.8 million grant to provide community-based crisis mental health services to El Paso County. (El Paso Times)

The Burke Center, in East Texas (Lufkin), received $1.66 million to establish a psychiatric emergency program. "The money, combined with funding from local hospitals, county governments and help from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation in finding a facility in Lufkin to use for the program, means Lufkin will soon have the only psychiatric emergency facility in the Deep East Texas region." (Lufkin Daily News)

The Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center, based in Waco, will receive more than $1.7 million in state money to launch a new center for people in psychiatric crisis. The center will include a short-term observation unit, a 16-bed residential unit for people who need a place to stay for 1-2 weeks while receiving treatment, and another 16-bed unit known as the "safe haven" program for those who are no longer in crisis but who need assistance with transitioning back into the community. (Waco Tribune)

All of these projects aim to relieve the stress on law enforcement and local emergency rooms and to provide critical assistance to those with mental illness and their families.

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