Texas ranked the lowest among all 50 states for mental health care, according to a Forbes article released in May. Among the contributing metrics are the highest percentage of youth who had a major depressive episode in the past year and did not receive treatment (73.1%) and the fifth lowest number of mental health treatment centers in the nation (only 41.92 per 10,000 businesses).
These statistics, combined with Texas being the second-most populated state in the country, are signs more needs to be done to improve mental health in the state.
In response to community feedback regarding insufficient pediatric mental health services in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, Providence’s Well Being Trust is supporting Covenant Children’s and Texas Tech Physicians Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department to open the region’s first pediatric mental health center. The center opened earlier this month and allows Covenant Children’s to better serve the needs of the pediatric population of Lubbock County and the surrounding region, while also supporting access to telehealth services for an expansive region including West Texas/the Panhandle Plains.
“Texas faces acute mental health access challenges with 98 percent of Texas counties experiencing mental health provider shortages, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services,” says Dr. Amy Thompson, Covenant Children’s Chief Executive. “However, West Texas faces even more severe mental health access challenges than the rest of Texas. Research by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists shows that Texas overall has a severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists and, at a county level, outside of a few counties such as Lubbock, Amarillo, and Midland, most West Texas counties have no child and adolescent psychiatrists. These shortages exist across all mental health professionals (LPCs, LMFTs, LCSWs, etc.), although to a less profound effect.”
The comprehensive unit will provide care for an estimated 3,200 patients per year and provide approximately 10,600 outpatient appointments. The relational health unit will enable caregivers to see patients between the ages of 2 and 20, and their families, for behavioral health concerns. Depending on the level of care needed, the new unit will make care accessible to adolescents where a pediatric setting would be appropriate.
“This new unit brings together a multidisciplinary team of licensed professional counselors, licensed master social workers, patient navigators, nurses, psychologists, and child and adolescent psychiatrists to provide comprehensive child mental health services,” says Thompson. “This Center also represents Covenant Children’s singular status as the region’s children’s hospital by allowing Covenant to provide an unparalleled level of comprehensive services to children and their families. This Center is only possible via a long-standing partnership with Texas Tech Health Science’s Center’s Department of Psychiatry, generous community donors, support of Providence’s Well Being Trust and support of the State of Texas – who share our vision of providing for all health care needs of children and their families.”
“There is nothing better we can do for our community than support the mental health of our children,” says Sarah Mallard Wakefield, M.D., Texas Tech Health Science’s Center Department of Psychiatry Chair. “This is a huge step forward in bringing desperately needed services to Lubbock to better serve our region. Our goal is to work together, pool our resources, and make the biggest difference in the lives of children and families in West Texas.”
Providence’s Well Being Trust is honored to drive important work that advances the mental health and well-being of our youth. Learn more at wellbeingtrust.org/innovationgrants2023.