Mental Health Access for First Responders

Mental Health Access for First Responders was created to develop recommendations for improving access to mental health care services for first responders. The work group must provide a report with recommendations on a detailed list of issues and submit it to the appropriate entities. The work group will be abolished June 1, 2019.

The workgroup is comprised of representatives from:

  • Health and Human Services
  • Texas Department of Insurance
  • Mental health professionals
  • Volunteer and paid fire departments
  • Volunteer and paid police departments
  • Sheriff departments
  • Emergency management agencies and departments
  • Municipal governments
  • County governments
  • Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice

Key Deliverables

  • Establishment of workgroup.
  • Develop recommendations.
  • Report with workgroup recommendations electronically submitted to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and all members of the legislature by Jan. 1, 2019.

Legislation

House Bill (H.B.) 1794, 85th Legislature, regular session

Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council

The Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council currently includes 23 member agencies (including HHSC). The council was legislatively created to develop and implement the Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan and Coordinated Statewide Expenditure Proposal.

The five-year strategic plan details planned efforts to coordinate behavioral health programs and services offered by member agencies to:

  • Eliminate redundancy.
  • Perpetuate identified, successful models for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
  • Ensure optimal service delivery.
  • Identify and collect comparable data on results and effectiveness.

The plan's vision is to build a system of care to ensure Texas has a unified approach to the delivery of behavioral health services that allows all Texans to have access to care at the right time and place. The strategic plan includes five goals related to the following areas:

  • Program and service coordination
  • Program and service delivery
  • Prevention and early intervention services
  • Financial alignment
  • Statewide data collaboration

The council is supported by the Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services Department's Office of Mental Health Coordination. Interagency workgroups are created to implement the strategic plan's goals, objectives and strategies.

Member Agencies

  • Health and Human Services Commission
  • Office of the Governor
  • Texas Veterans Commission
  • Department of Family and Protective Services
  • University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston
  • University of Texas, Health Science Center at Tyler
  • Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Texas Military Department
  • Health Professions Council (six-member agencies)
    • Board of Dental Examiners
    • Board of Pharmacy
    • Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
    • Optometry Board
    • Board of Nursing
    • Medical Board
  • Texas Education Agency
  • Texas Tech University System
  • Texas Commission on Jail Standards
  • Texas Workforce Commission
  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • Texas Indigent Defense Commission
  • Court of Criminal Appeals
  • Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Mental Health Coordination and Substance Use Disorder Parity Workgroup

The workgroup, which is a subcommittee of the Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, is established to increase the understanding of and compliance with state and federal rules, regulations and statutes concerning the availability of, and terms and conditions of, benefits for mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
The workgroup is tasked with studying and making recommendations on:

  • Increasing compliance with the rules, regulations and statutes described above.
  • Strengthening enforcement and oversight of these laws at state and federal agencies.
  • Improving the complaint process relating to potential violations of these laws for consumers and providers.
  • Ensuring HHSC and Texas Department of Insurance can accept information on concerns relating to these laws and investigate potential violations based on de-identified information and data submitted to providers in addition to individual complaints.
  • Increasing public and providers' education on these laws.

Membership Roster: 

Greg Hansch, Chair
National Alliance on Mental Illness Texas
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Advocate

Diane J. Felder, M.D., Vice Chair
Magellan Health
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Physician

Naomi Garcia Alvarez
Molina Healthcare of Texas
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
MCO

Bill Bailey
Cenikor Foundation
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Family member

Joe A. Bedford, M.D.
United Healthcare
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Commercial benefit plan

Christine Bryan
Clarity Child Guidance Center
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Children

Luis Calo, M.D., MMM
United Healthcare
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Utilization Review

Tracy Vilella Gartenmann
Recovery Brands, LLC
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Family member

Meredith Stacy Jones
Bluebonnet Trails Community Services
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Advocate

Kirk Kureska
Signature Behavioral Health Hospitals
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Hospital

Sherri Layton, MBA, LCDC, CCS
La Hacienda Treatment Center
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Provider

Debbie A. Mitchell
Starcare Specialty Health Services
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Consumer

Andrea Ramirez
Project Amistad
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Provider

Deborah Rosales-Elkins
National Alliance on Mental Illness Texas
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Consumer

Alba Villegas
The Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual and Development Disabilities
Term ends: Sept. 1, 2021
Provider

Vacant
Independent Review Organization

Meeting Dates

  • June 12, 2018
  • Aug. 21, 2018
  • Oct. 9, 2018
  • Dec. 11, 2018

Legislation

House Bill 10, 85th Legislature, Regular Session, 2017.