July 8, 2021

Texas is the latest state to launch a national mental health surveillance system, following the success of a pilot program in Colorado. 

The new system is being rolled out across all 50 states, with plans to expand to the entire country by the end of 2019. 

But despite the success in Colorado, the state’s system is still largely state-by-state. 

While the new Texas system is state-led, there are some common threads across the states.

It is a national-level effort that allows the states to coordinate surveillance and oversight and is subject to a federal standard that requires that all state mental health agencies be equipped with the latest technology. 

Texas also has the largest population of people with a mental health diagnosis in the country, which has contributed to its success. 

As of April, there were over 7.4 million people living with a diagnosable mental illness in the United States, according to the American Association of Mental Health. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of adults with a diagnosed mental illness live in states where screening and treatment is available. 

However, as of 2016, more Americans than ever are living in states with screening and untreated mental illness. 

In Texas, which ranks as the most heavily affected state in the nation due to its high rate of uninsured residents, more people than ever lived in counties that did not have mental health screenings in 2017. 

“There’s no question that this program is important for Texas and the entire nation,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a press conference announcing the new program.

“But the question is, where does the money come from? 

We’ve found that when we take care of our vulnerable populations, we also make sure that our resources are available to those in need, and that’s what we’re doing in Texas.” 

“Texas is a state that is in dire need of a statewide mental health strategy,” Governor Abbott said.

“We have a growing problem with homelessness, and there are many more people who need the help they need.

Texas is one of the most populous states in the U.S., and there is a growing need for mental health services.” 

In its announcement, the Texas Department of Mental Hygiene said that “the system will not be able to fully address all the needs of the population, and it is essential that Texas and its partners make every effort to meet their mission by implementing the new state-wide system.” 

According the AP, Abbott called the program a “major step forward for the state” and said it “will enable the health care professionals in our state to identify and respond to the most vulnerable among us, with the most at-risk in mind.” 

The state has spent over $7 billion on mental health care in the last five years, but experts say that while this is an important investment, it will only work if there is an increase in the availability of mental health and substance abuse treatment. 

Abbott also told reporters that the state is committed to “increasing the state-to-state coverage of mental illness services and will use all available resources to do so.” 

While Texas is still a far cry from reaching its 2020 goal of ending homelessness and providing free housing for the mentally ill, experts say it is already a far more successful strategy than other states that are attempting to scale up their own mental health programs. 

Dr. James F. Williams, a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Southern California and a former professor at the National Institute on Mental Health, told the AP that Texas’s success will be a major boost to states like Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada that have already taken steps to expand their own programs.

“This is going to be a significant development, because these states have already invested a significant amount of money in the mental health systems,” Williams said. 

Fifty-five percent of Americans in Texas are uninsured, according the Associated Press. 

Read more at Newsweek.com