Texas Legislature in Senate Bill 11

Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC)

Texas Legislature in Senate Bill 11 (SB11) developed the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC) to address gaps in mental health care for children in Texas. Comprising from the 13 Health Related Institutions (HRIs) in Texas, the TCMHCC oversee the growth and development of Psychiatric services in schools and the community. TTUHSC El Paso was awarded 5.8 Million dollars for 2 years to establish the 5 projects across a 16 county region encompassing the Texas-Mexico Border: El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Reeves, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Winkler, Pecos, Terrell, Crocket, Val Verde, Kinney, and Maverick County.

The 5 Projects fall under TCMHCC funding:

A network of child psychiatry access centers at the health-related institutions that will provide child and adolescent behavioral health consultation services and training opportunities for pediatricians and primary care providers.

The goals of CPAN are to provide PCP’s, who care for children and adolescents, access to child and adolescent psychiatric consultation, training, and support; education to manage the behavioral health needs of their child and adolescent patients within a primary health care setting; and Provide assistance in locating behavioral health specialty care services for children and youth whose needs require on-going treatment from a community-based behavioral health provider beyond the scope of a telephonic consultation.

In May 2020 the CPAN State telephone consultation line began taking calls; TTUHSC El Paso was one of 3 HRIs able to start taking calls despite Covid-19 related challenges across the state of Texas. To date the El Paso phone line has the 3rd highest call volume despite having the smallest population per region.

Telemedicine or telehealth programs between health related institutions and local school districts (ISDs) for schools to identify and assess the behavioral health needs of children and adolescents and provide access to mental health services, prioritizing the needs of at-risk children and adolescents and maximizing the number of school districts served in diverse regions of the state.

The purpose of the TCHATT Project is to prevent school shootings and an increase in youth suicide rates brought the attention to children and adolescents with mental health issues. The program will focus on children and adolescents with high risk behavior: Issues with the legal system; Alternative school placements; In-school or out-school suspensions; Absenteeism especially if at risk of not graduating or moving to the next grade; Psychiatric problems contributing to behavior; Not intended for those already in psychiatric treatment. A maximum of 4 sessions is provided to each student in the program; comprehensive evaluation, brief treatment, and culminating in outpatient referral.

Partnering with 5 Independent School Districts (ISD), the TCHATT team works with the high school Committees to identify students who meet the programs “At Risk” criteria. Licensed Professional Counselors provide assessments on each participant. Evaluation determines the course of intervention; further sessions via telemedicine with a TCHATT Counselor or Psychiatrist, and/or referral services for additional care. The partnerships of 5 ISDs allows for the program to begin in 11 High Schools and 1 Middle School, impacting the 30,000+ student population across the 16 county region.

Providing full-time psychiatrists to serve as academic medical directors at facilities operated by community mental health providers and new psychiatric resident rotation positions at the facilities. This program allowed for expansion of the Psychiatry Residency into additional community based rotations and add 2 Residence to the program. Partnerships were solidified for clinical rotations with Aliviane, Inc., The Child Guidance Center, and Emergence Health Network.

Providing additional child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship positions at the health-related institutions. The goal of the Fellowship expansion was to increase the number of medical professionals in Texas who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric and associated behavioral health issues affecting children and adolescence. The increase of 2 Fellows to the program increases the ratio of child and adolescent psychiatrists to child population and can reduce wait times to see a Psychiatrist in Texas; hopefully reducing the number of designated mental health care professional shortage areas (MHPSAs).

Adding to the development of Psychiatry in Texas the research component allows for a more rich understanding of children and adolescents as they are faced with Depression/Suicide and Trauma. A brief study will gather data to better understand the changing landscape of youth receiving services, especially in the wake of traumatic events such as the August 3rd, 2019, shooting in El Paso.