Recent tragedies such as acts of targeted school violence, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic emphasize the need for, and importance of, supporting students’ mental and behavioral health. Legislators, school administrators, community members, and parents acknowledge the need for readily available mental health supports, services, and resources for students; however, it can be difficult to determine what resources are available within any specific region of Texas. This document is designed to be a starting point for awareness of what is occurring at the state-level and for identifying area resources.
Mental Health Resources
The Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health
Established through the 86th Texas Legislature, the Task Force was developed to study and evaluate school mental health services and training. The Task Force is additionally responsible for creating a report and providing recommendations to Texas Legislators. The Year 1 Report captures COVID-19–specific recommendations, overall goals, state-funded and federally-funded school mental health services and educator training, and indicators of quality school mental health systems.
Texas Education Agency (TEA)
Texas Education Code §38.254 charges TEA with developing a statewide plan “to ensure that all students have adequate access to mental health resources.” This plan details how TEA envisions supporting Texas schools with behavioral health access, resources, interventions, referrals, and recommendations. The plan also details TEA’s 5 Year Plan to address statutory charges and timeline for implementation.
Texas School Mental Health
This initiative is a partnership between TEA, Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education (AWARE) Texas, Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, and other statewide partners. Resources and tools listed on the website provide districts and schools with how to create a comprehensive system for school mental health.
Texas Health and Human Services
Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) provides numerous public services and resources for both children and adults. Children’s services include, but are not limited to, crisis intervention, assessment services, case management services, community mental health services, mental health counseling services, skills training services, transition-age services, and Youth Empowerment Services (YES) waiver. The YES waiver is a Medicaid program that provides intensive community-based services to youth experiencing mental health or behavioral difficulties.
Find Your Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA), Local Behavioral Health Authority (LBHA), or Regional Education Service Center (ESC).
Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT)
TCHATT is an initiative of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium that provides behavioral telehealth or telemedicine services to school districts to increase access to mental health services. Although many schools in Texas are enrolled with TCHATT, not all schools or districts participate. You can determine if your school or district is currently enrolled or soon-to-be enrolled in TCHATT and learn how and when to use TCHATT via the interactive map below.
Non-Physician Mental Health Professionals
In 2019, the Texas Education Code was amended with the directive for local mental health authorities to employ one non-physician mental health professional at each of the 20 regional ESCs. Each professional serves as a resource and provides training (e.g., Mental Health First Aid and trauma-informed practices) for school districts located in their ESC region. The report below outlines the findings of the 2020 implementation and outcomes of the non-physician mental health professionals.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential, and free support by trained counselors for anyone in distress. The Lifeline also provides prevention and crisis resources and best practices for professionals. Beginning July 16, 2022, anyone in the United States who dials, texts, or online chats 988 will be routed and connected to the Lifeline. The goal is that this easy-to-remember number will increase awareness, reduce mental health stigma, and meet the growing need for crisis intervention. The Lifeline hopes that “When you’ve got a police, fire or rescue emergency, you call 911. When you have an urgent mental health need, you’ll call 988.”
A Parent’s Guide to School Safety Toolkit
This toolkit, developed by the Texas School Safety Center, introduces key school safety and behavioral health topics, highlights relevant Texas laws, and provides specific information about school safety that you and your child need to know. Mental health topics include behavioral health and illness, bullying and cyberbullying, anonymous reporting, internet safety, sexting, dating violence, suicide prevention, and tobacco use and vaping. The toolkit also includes tips on how to talk with your child about behavioral health, answers to important questions related to school safety and behavioral health, and additional resources.
COVID-19 and Mental Health Considerations Amid Reintegration to School Toolkit
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented change to schools and significantly impacted children, families, and school staff. This toolkit, developed by the Texas School Safety Center, addresses how mental health has been impacted by COVID-19 and provides mental health considerations for how to support students, staff, and parents in the transition back to school. Each topic has information applicable to a school setting and key takeaways. Topics include the impact of stress and trauma, bullying, non-suicidal self-injury, substance use, re-engaging disconnected students, and additional mental health considerations.
Mental Health Texas
Mental Health Texas provides resources, links, and information about mental health conditions, social services (e.g., Medicaid), and how to get help for yourself or someone else. Federal and state resources and information on intellectual or developmental disability services are also available.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to improve the lives of those living with mental illness through education and support programs, advocacy, and other resources. NAMI also provides resources to those who love, work with, or live in communities with those affected by mental illness.