A Guide to Understanding Mental Health Systems and Services in Texas
Importance of Public Policy
Public policy directly affects people's access to mental health services and supports, the quality of care they receive, and their legal rights and protections. These policies develop through legislative, regulatory and judicial actions and agency practices. They can be shaped by many variables, such as the economy, political influence and personal experiences, as well as informed advocacy, effective leadership, public interest and meaningful data.
The Hogg Foundation encourages individuals and nonprofits to participate in state and local policy discussions about mental health in Texas. Sharing and advocating for ideas and beliefs about how to improve the public mental health system can lead to meaningful, system-wide improvements. Advocacy also can help increase opportunities for recovery from mental illness by promoting best practices such as consumer- and family-driven care and attention to health disparities experienced by diverse populations.
There are many ways to get involved in public policy. One of the most important things you can do is to stay informed and aware of what's happening in your community and at the state level. Here are some of the ways in which to get involved:
- Join the board of your local public health center.
- Attend public meetings and hearings about mental health funding and services.
- Provide written comments to state and local agencies.
- Contact elected officials, decision makers and community leaders about specific issues.
- Send a letter or opinion column to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Join local and state mental health advocacy organizations.
The Hogg Foundation also has a mental health policy initiative focused on three key activities:
- Grants to nonprofits for public policy projects
- Training and professional development in public policy
- Information about mental health policy issues in Texas
Through policy grants awarded by the Hogg Foundation, several resource materials have been produced by the grantees. Below is a list of these materials:
- Building Better Beginnings: Improving Child Care Licensing Standards by Texas Association for Infant Mental Health
- Justice for Immigration's Hidden Population by Texas Appleseed
- Juvenile Justice, Mental Health & Youth of Color: A Framework for Action in Texas by Southwest Key Programs, Inter-American Institute for Youth Justice at The University of Texas at Austin
- Recommendations for Updating the Texas Mental Health Code by Texas Appleseed
- Texas Juvenile Justice Policies, Management Standards and MOU by Southwest Key Programs, Inter-American Institute for Youth Justice at The University of Texas at Austin
- Work and Benefits video and booklet by Advocates of Abilene
Program Officer Colleen Horton, (512) 471-2988