Ten months after the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, the Texas Senate last night approved the most far reaching program on teen mental health anywhere in the country, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"As we have seen with recent acts of violence, increased suicide rates, and lives shattered by drug abuse, Texas children need our help," said State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) who is the author of the sweeping legislation.
The bill would establish a 'state mental health consortium,' hire mental health professionals in school districts, establish threat assessment teams, expand emergency response training for school district employees, and establish 'mental health hubs' at state medical schools.
"This bill would provide early intervention for these children and adolescents, and get them into treatment before they become a danger to themselves and others," Nelson said.
The bill also calls for telemedicine programs to help troubled students who live in rural areas.
"This consortium will launch mental health hubs at our medical schools that would allow pediatricians to consult with mental health professionals."
The measure is one of the priorities of Gov. Abbott and it now goes to the House, but yesterday's debate was not without controversy.
Advocates for the disabled say they are afraid that disabled children will be 'labeled' as mentally ill and will be included in this program, further damaging their future. Gun control advocates also complained that the measure doesn't include any language that would reduced the flow of guns to troubled teens, like the so called 'red flag law.'
Those laws, which would allow a judge to strip firearms from law abiding people upon the testimony of a parent, school officials, or other responsible individual was first considered by Abbott, and then rejected.