Tarrant County Young Marines Pvt Joshua Acevedo puts a stuffed bear back onto the pile in the 'toy pit' at Lone Star Park as hundreds of riders took part in the 28th Annual Big Texas Toy Run on Saturday, December 14, 2013. The Big Texas Toy Run benefits Mental Health-Mental Retardation (MHMR) of Tarrant County, Metrocare Services in Dallas County, and other children's charities in the Metroplex. Ian McVea Star-Telegram archives
Tarrant County Young Marines Pvt Joshua Acevedo puts a stuffed bear back onto the pile in the 'toy pit' at Lone Star Park as hundreds of riders took part in the 28th Annual Big Texas Toy Run on Saturday, December 14, 2013. The Big Texas Toy Run benefits Mental Health-Mental Retardation (MHMR) of Tarrant County, Metrocare Services in Dallas County, and other children's charities in the Metroplex. Ian McVea Star-Telegram archives

Editorials

Mental health report needs actionable next steps

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

January 06, 2017 07:25 PM

UPDATED January 18, 2017 06:06 PM

Ever played Monopoly?

In the classic board game, the point is to monopolize the board, be the wealthiest and make everyone else run out of money.

The most effective way to rake in those Monopoly dollars is to focus and build on a particular area or two before branching out.

Nobody effectively wins Monopoly by buying every property they land on. They would lose all their money before making any progress.

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Tackling the antiquated mental healthcare system in Texas should be like winning Monopoly — we should build on a few focused areas and not try to blanket the board with funding.

But until last week, we didn’t even have a board; just a consensus that mental healthcare was underfunded, understaffed and grossly misunderstood.

Over the last year, the Texas House Select Committee on Mental Health held eight extensive hearings with testimony on mental health issues from organizations, experts and affected individuals.

The members of the committee, led by Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, heard story after story about the struggles of people who needed adequate healthcare and didn’t get it. These people want change, and they want someone to hear their plight.

The committee listened and put together a 109-page report detailing the problems and making recommendations for solutions.

The report explains the gravity of the situation and the urgency to make mental healthcare a priority during the legislative session that begins Tuesday.

“If we fail to adequately invest and earnestly address the issues now, we do so at our own peril because the societal, medical and criminal justice costs alone will be extremely high,” the report concludes. “In short, the problems will not simply go away on their own.”

The state should make fixing the mental healthcare system a priority, but it needs to do so in an effective, focused way.

This isn’t a problem we can just throw money at. The state needs a smart strategy.

The report lays out problems that need immediate attention, like early intervention assessments and treatment and increasing the number of beds available for patients with mental health issues.

Both are fitting places to start building up actionable steps toward a solution.