HF Awards $4.6 Million for Mental Health Services
Bridging Grants Help Texas Mental Health Service Providers
March 1, 2005
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health announced the awarding of $4.6 million in grants to 50 agencies across Texas to help mental health service providers meet growing mental health needs in the face of increasingly limited resources.
The foundation's Special Mental Health Services Initiative (SMHSI) was a response to reports of growing pressures on mental health agencies across the state, said Dr. King E. Davis, executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. "Service providers from every corner of the state have told about their struggles to keep pace with increasing needs for services in the face of dwindling resources," Davis said. "Clearly, many programs have reached a critical point and need help in bridging service gaps."
The SMHSI was open to Texas non-profits that provide direct mental health services and could document either their own funding cuts or increases in the demand for services due to funding reductions at other community agencies.
Applicants were also required to specify the service reductions made and how services would be restored, maintained, or redirected using Hogg Foundation funding. The $4.6 million was divided among eight regions of the state, including the Houston area, where separate resources are dedicated for the benefit of children and families. One-year grants of up to $100,000 were awarded based upon the strength of applicants' plans for maintaining, restoring or refocusing direct services to specific target populations of consumers in Texas. Over 150 requests for funding were received, from which the 50 programs were chosen.
In making their proposals, agencies frequently cited a number of factors as contributing to the service gaps: rapidly expanding populations, escalating medical costs, fundraising downturns, and recent changes to the financing and structure of the public mental health system. The results of these factors, however, remained frustratingly constant: increasing numbers of persons with mental illness being turned away from services and showing up in emergency rooms, homeless shelters and jails across the state.
"A number of the proposals contained very moving accounts of the dilemmas facing both individuals and communities," said Davis. "If these accounts are anywhere near representative of the rest of the state, we are reaching a critical level of need for mental health care in Texas."
In one scenario, officials told of a 20-year-old male who had been hospitalized in a central Texas hospital after attempting suicide. Although he was in desperate need of follow up counseling and services to ward off the possibility of a future attempt, his lack of health insurance and his ineligibility for public mental health services prevented him from receiving subsequent care by the Austin/Travis County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center. Once he was discharged, the doctors said, they could little more than pray that they would not see him again.
From El Paso – which ranks among Texas' most challenged cities in terms of the numbers of uninsured and poor citizens – many agencies cited reductions in state funding combined with declines in charitable and church-based donations as pressuring their ability to provide services in the community. Yet, the same was also true in North Texas, where a number of mental health service providers warned that they were on the verge of closing their doors without an infusion of funding.
Davis said that "the acute and obvious needs of these communities" required that the Hogg Foundation depart from its traditional philanthropic approach and rethink how to deploy its resources "so that they have the optimum positive impact during a period of uncertainty."
"Our benefactors had chosen their endowment to be for 'the benefit of the people of Texas,' " said Davis. "We were convinced that committing foundation monies to help sustain these vital mental health services was the best way of complying with those wishes."
Davis gave special acknowledgement to Hogg Foundation employees Sherry Forman-Ricks, Margarita Alvarez, and special consultants Debbie Berndt and Brandy Gazo, for leading and managing the Special Mental Health Services Initiative.