On January 15, the Hogg Foundation hosted a mental health policy luncheon at the Texas State Capitol that brought together state legislators and their staffs for an opportunity to break bread and talk about advancing mental health in Texas. Addressing the invited guests, Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation, spoke about the foundation’s leadership on mental health issues, the foundation’s current initiatives, and offered the foundation’s experts as a resource for the 83rd session. He was followed by state Representative Cindy Burkett, who represents House District 113. The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Gary Foster a noted Hollywood film producer who helmed the 2009 film The Soloist.

That same afternoon, Foster spoke at a Hogg-hosted public forum about his experiences. His experience working on The Soloist drove him to become passionate about mental health. He is also a strong supporter of the World Health Organization’s QualityRights Project, designed to improve the quality of care and human rights conditions in mental health and social care services around the world.

“The policy luncheon presents an excellent opportunity to get our message across to several key members of the Legislature in one sitting,” said Dr. Martinez. “Policy work has a far reach in improving the lives of Texans living with mental health conditions. This is especially true for public policy at the state level.”

Colleen Horton, Hogg policy program officer, agrees. “The 83rd Texas Legislature will be debating a host of issues that have profound ramifications for mental health services and systems, such as Medicaid reform, Rider 71, Money Follows the Person initiatives, and many others,” said Horton. “We hope that through this luncheon as well as the meetings we will be having with legislators and their staffers in the weeks to come, the foundation’s expertise will inform policy making for the good of all Texans with mental health conditions.”