Texas Ranks Last in Mental Health Funding, Professionals React

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Mental health issues are making headlines after the shootings in Connecticut and Oregon. When it comes to treating those patients, Texas comes in dead last for funding mental health services.

According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the national average on spending for mental health services per person is $109.

But in the Lone Star State? It's just $36 a person.

"What worries me the most is that an individual will find a hospital to go to but that stay is gonna be dramatically shortened by the amount of funding out there," Mental Health Therapist, Cheryl Harrah, said. "A person who really needs a few weeks of treatment may only get a few days of treatment."

Harrah, who works at Samaritan Counseling Center, says this makes it even harder for people needing treatment.

"The brain that you depend on to help you with the willpower to get better is exactly what's dysfunctional at the time it needs the help," Harrah said.

"I feel saddened that the stigmatism towards mental health is gonna continue to be negative," Kristin Harris said.

Harris, who is with Allegiance Specialty Hospital, says the lack of funding could lead to more problems in people with mental illness.

"More health problems, more ER visits and doctor visits, and it honestly costs the state of Texas more money on the healthcare end," Harris said.

Mental health has been a big issue ever since more information was revealed about Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza.

But both women say the lack in funding does not mean every mental health patient is a threat.

"Research actually shows that more violence happens against people with mental illness than those with mental illness committing violent crimes," Harris said.

"What we do with treatment is we help increase the quality of a person's life and everybody deserves to have joy and happiness," Harrah said.

Lawmakers have already slashed millions from mental health funding in the last legislative session but the Texas Department of State Health Services plans on asking for an increase in funding when they reconvene in January.