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Public Policy: Prevention and Trauma

There are a variety of social, economic, and physical environments that can harm the mental health of individuals and communities.  Because these factors do not affect everyone equally, well-documented mental health disparities and inequities exist in our society. Specifically, traumatic events can have lasting effects on a person’s mental health. Texas should identify and address factors that contribute to negative mental health outcomes.

Provide education and support around interpersonal violence


Experiencing interpersonal violence, including sexual assault and harassment, can be a deeply traumatic experience. A third of Texans experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetimes, usually by someone they know and often before adulthood. Policy strategies include:
  • Prevention of interpersonal violence by promoting healthy relationships and consent amongst children and youth in schools and in other community settings
  • Counseling and other supports funding for survivors
  • HHSC Legislative Appropriation Request Exceptional Item 34 to provide survivors of family violence with mental health resources as part of the Family Violence Program.
Implement trauma-informed care/practice

Adverse childhood experiences and other traumatic events, when left untreated, can have a devastating impact on a person’s well-being and social outcomes, including higher rates of chronic physical health problems, severe mental health issues, and substance abuse disorders.

Texas should implement trauma-informed care and practices in all systems whose participants are at a higher risk of having experienced trauma. This includes children in the foster care system, adults and youth involved in the criminal justice system, and individuals who have served in the military.

Address poverty-related issues that impact mental health

Living in poverty can have a serious impact on the development of a child’s brain. Living in unstable housing situations, struggling to pay bills, food insecurity, and other intense stressors take a toll on the health and wellbeing of families. People living in poverty experience higher rates of mental illness for longer periods of time and with greater severity. Texas should invest in services that provide social and economic support for individuals and families living in poverty.

Support family mental health

The mental health of each family member impacts the well-being of the entire family. Mental health resources should be developed with children, parents, and other relatives in mind. 17% of new mothers experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but less than half receive any mental health treatment.

Texas should develop and publicize a wide range of affordable mental health resources for mothers, which may include:

  • telehealth
  • peer support
  • counseling
  • Medicaid coverage until one year postpartum
Address the impact of physical environment on mental health

An individual’s physical environment can play a major role in their mental well-being. Green spaces and parks, safety, adequate infrastructure in housing and public buildings, sanitation, clean air and water, healthy foods, habitable temperatures, and other aspects of the physical environment can have an unexpected impact on a person’s mental health. Texas should invest in public health best practices to ensure clean, safe, and habitable communities.

Reduce mental health disparities

Mental health outcomes can dramatically differ across race, ethnicity, nationality, gender/gender identity, sexuality, age, or location. NAMI Texas supports efforts to reduce discrimination and social inequity, as well as increase access to services, necessities, and social and economic opportunities across Texas.


86th Legislative Session Key Bills on Child and Youth Mental Health

Senate Bill 71 (Nelson) – Relating to the establishment of a statewide telehealth center for sexual assault forensic medical examination.

Senate Bill 71 would create statewide telehealth center for sexual assault nurse examiners to expand access to their expertise to underserved areas.

Senate Bill 180 (Miles) – Relating to applications for permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for certain new or expanded facilities in certain low-income and minority communities.

Senate Bill 180 would regulate new and expanded facilities in low-income and racial or ethnic minority communities to ensure environmentally friendly.

Senate Bill 212 (Huffman) – Relating to a reporting requirement for certain incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking at certain public and private institutions of higher education; creating a criminal offense; authorizing administrative penalties

Senate Bill 212 would require colleges/university employees to report information regarding sexual assault against students/employees of the institution and investigate or follow up as appropriate.

Senate Bill 339 (Huffman) – Relating to a seller’s disclosure notice for residential property regarding floodplains, flood pools, or reservoirs.

Senate Bill 339 would require sellers to provide notice to purchaser on or before the date of entering a contract if a property is fully or partially located in a 500-year flood plain, 100-year flood plain, reservoir, flood pool, within five miles downstream of reservoir, or if it’s flooded in the past or would flood in a catastrophic event.

House Bill 251 (Farrar) – Relating to the exclusion of certain resources in determining eligibility for the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

House Bill 251 would remove liquid resources and vehicles from assets of applicant or family in SNAP eligibility.

House Bill 253 (Farrar) – Relating to a strategic plan to address postpartum depression.

House Bill 253 would require HHSC to develop statewide strategic plan to address postpartum depression, including peer support, funding community treatment, and building provider networks.

House Bill 254 – Relating to the prohibition of certain discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; providing an administrative penalty; creating a criminal offense.

House Bill 254 would prohibit housing or employment discrimination on basis on sexual orientation or gender identity.

House Bill 266 (Bernal) – Relating to the definition of sanitary, decent, and safe dwelling for housing developments.

House Bill 266 would define sanitary, decent, and safe dwelling for housing in code.

House Bill 292 (S. Thompson) – Relating to inclusion of instruction on the trafficking of persons in the basic training curriculum for peace officers.

House Bill 292 would expand human trafficking training requirement from new officers to all peace officers.

House Bill 366 (M. Gonzalez)– Relating to healthy relationships education in public schools.

House Bill 366 would require State Board of Education to develop curriculum and standards for education on communication, healthy relationships, overall social-emotional learning, requires school districts to implement curriculum.

House Bill 475 (Howard)– Relating to information for foster children who are pregnant or minor parents.

House Bill 475 would require the Department of Public Safety to educate pregnant and parenting youth in foster care on taking care of infants and young children and recognizing the signs of perinatal mood disorders.

House Bill 523 (Allen) – Relating to permit application requirements for solid waste facilities.

House Bill 523 would require solid waste facilities seeking permit to inform via mail every resident, civic club, community organization, or nonprofit organization about the proposed site and solicit feedback and submit the feedback as part of application.

House Bill 605 (Thierry) – Relating to a franchise tax credit for entities that establish a grocery store or healthy corner store in a food desert.

House Bill 605 would provide a franchise tax credit for establishing a grocery store in a food desert that is located in or serves a low or moderate income area, accepts WIC and SNAP benefits, and is open year round.

House Bill 617 (Neave) – Relating to a study and report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on the response by certain public and private institutions of higher education to reports of sexual assault at those institutions.

House Bill 617 would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study on postsecondary educational institution policies around sexual assault on campus, and how certain policies could deter students reporting sexual assault or hinder investigations of reports.

House Bill 719 (Thierry) – Relating to medical education coursework and training for physicians in cultural competence and implicit bias.

House Bill 719 would require medical board to develop cultural competence and implicit bias training as part of a medical or DO education and requires physicians in general practice, pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology to complete this training as part of medical education requirements.

House Bill 822 (Parker) – Relating to addressing adverse childhood experiences and developing a strategic plan to address those experiences.

House Bill 822 would define adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in statute and requires Health and Human Services to collaborate with other named state agencies to study data on cause and effect of ACEs, evaluate gaps in services, identify best practices, and develop a five-year strategic plan to prevent and address ACEs.

House Bill 1232 (Guillen) – Relating to the establishment and duties of the human trafficking prevention coordinating council.

House Bill 1232 would create a statewide human trafficking prevention coordinating council that would develop five-year strategic plan to prevent human trafficking in state, including asset inventory of current programming and strategies to improve coordination across agencies.

House Bill 1252 (Rodriguez) – Relating to the establishment of a grocery access investment fund program.

House Bill 1252 would create a Texas grocery access investment fund to develop public-private partnerships to increase access to healthy foods in underserved low-income and moderate-income areas.

House Bill 1509 (Calanni) – Relating to consent instruction and instruction on the prevention of sexual abuse and sex trafficking for certain public school students.

Info pending.

House Bill 1536 (Miller) – Relating to trauma-informed care for children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services, trauma-informed care training for certain department employees, and the establishment of the Trauma-Informed Care Task Force.

Info pending.

House Bill 1602 (Hernandez) – Relating to the time at which instruction may begin in public schools; making an appropriation.

House Bill 1602 would prohibit school districts from starting the school day before 8 am.

House Bill 1735 (Howard) and Senate Bill 585 (Watson) – Relating to sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking at public and private postsecondary educational institutions; providing an administrative penalty.

Info pending.

Testimony on Prevention and Trauma

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