Legislature needs to address mental health needs

State practices in mental health, in the opinion of Drs. David Lakey and Andy Keller, are well below the standard for what is needed for our population in Texas today. They have written an op-ed statement regarding mental health in Texas.

Imagine this common, tragic scenario. Your previously healthy son, daughter, or spouse has developed increasing difficulty managing her finances, job, or relationships. A doctor sees her and diagnoses depression or another mental illness. The doctor learns that she is at risk of hurting herself or others. Or maybe she committed a minor crime such as trespassing, and the police arrested her. At the police station, she is diagnosed as having a mental illness and needing to go to a hospital.

In both cases your loved one may spend weeks or even months in jail before being sent to a state mental health hospital that is poorly designed for healing. At those hospitals, whole wards may be closed due to mold. She may share a small room with up to five other patients. The campus, which housed about 3000 people when it was first built 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, now houses 300. Those unused wards were never torn down, though. Instead they just rot and gradually fall down.

If he or she is at Rusk State Hospital, the ceiling in her room may have accessible pipes or other code violations, which means that the state is mandated to employ staff to sit in the room, 24 hours a day, to prevent patients from harming themselves.


Because of the poor healing environment…

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