Bonnie Petrie

Law Enforcement And Health Officials Fight To Fund Mental Health Help

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(Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

There is no doubt that Texas needs resources for those dealing with mental health issues. News 92 FM’s Pattie Shieh spoke with two people on the front line of the fight for more money:

Police are often the first and only phone call for families who are dealing with a loved one’s mental illness. That’s why the Houston police department has one of the largest crisis intervention teams in the country.

Houston police chief Charles McClelland hopes more funding will change that.

“Without adequate funding for mental health police is really the only government agency that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that’s what people resort to they have no other place or entity to call,” Chief McClelland said.

The bottom line is resources are few for many struggling with mental health challenges. The conditions often require years of care, expensive medication, and access to doctors.

“We don’t treat anything else like this,” said Dr. Steven Schnee. “We don’t wait for people to go into a diabetic coma and collapse on the street before we try to provide the kind of health services and educational services and supports they need.”

Dr. Schnee serves as the executive director of Harris County’s Mental Health and Mental Retardation Association. He describes Texas has having accommodations for thousands but that there are hundreds of thousands who need help, and insurance plays a huge role.

“Very often they have no options particularly in this state where one in four people are medically uninsured and in Harris County where roughly 1 in 3 are uninsured and with the growth that we have in our population that’s occurring literally every day, it’s a huge hole that we have dug for ourselves.”

Dr. Schnee believes the problem can be solved but it will take years to build an adequate infrastructure of support and education. the reality is without it, the problem will only get worse.

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