Behavioral Health


Nearly six million Texans experience a behavioral health condition annually, and more than 60 percent of those conditions go untreated. The Texas Hospital Association is committed to improving access to timely, medically-necessary behavioral health treatment. As such, THA tracks and will educate lawmakers in their effort to:

  • Monitor the state’s progress in coordinating behavioral health services and expenditures across state government, including the impact of new local grant funding provided by the 85th Legislature. Senate Finance Committee
  • Monitor implementation of initiatives to increase capacity and reduce waitlists in the mental health system, including the construction of state hospitals and new community grant programs. Senate Health and Human Services Committee
  • Monitor the implementation of the statewide mental health parity legislation (House Bill 10), legislation authorizing a community mental health grant program (House Bill 13) and the mental health grant program for justice-involved individuals (Senate Bill 292). House Committee on Public Health, Senate Finance Committee
  • Analyze the prevalence of children involved with Child Protective Services who have a mental illness and/or a substance use disorder. In addition, analyze the prevalence of children involved with CPS due to their guardian’s substance abuse or because of an untreated mental illness. Ensure Texas Medicaid is providing access to appropriate and effective behavioral health services. House Committee on Public Health and House Committee on Human Services
  • Study and make recommendations to improve services available for identifying and treating children with mental illness, including the application of trauma- and grief-informed practices. Identify strategies to assist in understanding the impact and recognizing the signs of trauma in children and providing school-based or community-based mental health services to children who need them. House Committee on Public Health
  • Evaluate the use of telemedicine to improve behavioral health services in the juvenile justice system. House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues


  • Review substance use prevention, intervention and recovery programs operated or funded by the state and make recommendations to enhance services, outreach and agency coordination. Examine the adequacy of substance use services for pregnant and postpartum women enrolled in Medicaid or the Healthy Texas Women Program and recommend ways to improve substance use related health outcomes for these women and their newborns. Examine the impact of recent legislative efforts to curb overprescribing and doctor shopping via the prescription monitoring program and recommend ways to expand on current efforts. Senate Health and Human Services Committee
  • Study the prevalence and impact of substance use and substance use disorders in Texas, including co-occurring mental illness. Study the prevalence and impact of opioids and synthetic drugs in Texas. Review the history of overdoses and deaths due to overdoses. Also review other health-related impacts due to substance abuse. Identify substances that are contributing to overdoses, related deaths and health impacts, and compare the data to other states. Identify effective and efficient prevention and treatment responses by health care systems, including hospital districts and coordination across state and local governments. Recommend solutions to prevent overdoses and related health impacts and deaths in Texas. House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
  • Review the prevalence of substance abuse and substance use disorders in pregnant women, veterans, homeless individuals and people with co-occurring mental illness. In the review, study the impact of opioids and identify available programs specifically targeted to these populations and the number of people served. Consider whether the programs have the capacity to meet the needs of Texans. In addition, research innovative programs from other states that have reduced substance abuse and substance use disorders, and determine if these programs would meet the needs of Texans. Recommend strategies to increase the capacity to provide effective services. House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
  • Review policies and guidelines used by state agencies to monitor for and prevent abuse of prescription drugs in state-funded or state-administered programs. Review policies implemented by Texas Medicaid, Division of Workers’ Compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance, Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System. Make recommendations regarding best practices. House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
  • Identify how opioids have impacted the normal scope of work for law enforcement, first responders and hospital emergency department personnel. House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
  • Examine the impact of overdose reporting defense laws known as “Good Samaritan” laws. House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse


Sara Gonzalez, vice president of advocacy and public policy, 512/465-1596

Sharon Beasley, legal manager, 512/465-1030

Cesar Lopez, J.D., associate general counsel, 512/465-1027